AOPA: FAA Cuts ‘Disproportionately’ Affect Genav

 - March 12, 2013, 3:52 PM

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) sent a letter today to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, urging him to stop cuts from sequestration that will “disproportionately” affect the safety of general aviation operations. “The recommended cuts will have unacceptable consequences for the nation and the flying community,” AOPA president and CEO Craig Fuller wrote to Huerta. “We urge you to suspend the planned cuts while we, and others, call upon Congress and the Administration’s budget officials to grant you the needed flexibility to make choices that will reduce spending without threatening the safety of our skies or disabling general aviation.”

One of the biggest cuts will come to air traffic services in the form of control tower closures–nearly 200 of them and mainly at GA airports, according to the latest FAA estimates. Most of these towers are operated by private contractors, “a system with an excellent record of safety and efficiency,” said Fuller. “Contract towers handle approximately 28 percent of all air traffic control tower operations in the U.S., but account for just 14 percent of the FAA’s total tower operations budget…it is illogical to dismember this program in a budget-reduction scenario.”

Besides the tower closures, Fuller is also alarmed at cuts that would “restrict weather and flight services, allow the navigational system to deteriorate and derail aircraft certification.”

Comments

jim breuer's picture

Amazing the show that the Administration is making of these cuts. The fact is that this year all the cuts do is to cut the INCREASES in funding for the government. No actual cuts this year to the federal budget as a whole. You must realize that Washington is engaged in full on propaganda mode - they are making sure the cuts that are made are as damaging and/or visible as possible. This is why they are doing things like closing White House tours, releasing prisoners, and closing control towers. The political establishment derives it's power by increasing spending. Decreasing spending is seen by them as reducing their power. That is why they won't cut the fat. That is why these fake "cuts" have the Administration writhing around like a Vampire that has been sprinkled with holy water!!!

Brian's picture

It is amazing whenever budgets cuts come everyone affected has a knee jerk reaction to claim how they need every penny and how any cuts will affect safety. I can tell you that they are many contract towers that can safely close (K.I. Sawyer, MI for one). Sawyer sees maybe a flight or two an hour (this is on the high side). It was always funny to ask for taxi clearance at what seemed like an abandoned airport. The tower was closed for a while. They reopened several years ago (a politician getting money for his district?). There is NO PROBLEM closing this contract tower and I am sure there are many more like it. For those not familiar with aviation contract towers while nice are definitely not needed everywhere. Airlines can operate safely with out them. After midnight many towers close for the night. You don't see late night freight operators crying at how dangerous it is because it isn't.

I have also seen money pour unnecessarily into small airports. Many times they had to look for ways to use the money or else they would lose it. I watched a perfectly fine airport tear up and repave a decent runway. I would typically see one or two flights a day come into this airport but the state and feds gave them money to repave and expand. Again, a political favor to bring money in?

There is also the "essential air service" program. You can look up the details but I can tell you I personally flew many empty flights or flights with one or two people under this program. The government pays for the flights whether anyone is on the flight. The idea is that it keeps airlines going into remote areas so people won't be isolated. The routes I flew were to cities where people would have been able to get a normal flight with only an hour or two drive. Did you every drive an hour or two to get a flight? Well if you lived in the boonies you wouldn't have to because the government (your tax dollars) will foot the bill for airlines to go there.

Until these and other wasteful spending programs are cut I don't want to hear AOPA or the FAA complaining about safety issues related to budget cuts. Don't let these cries about safety concerns from budget cuts affect you. There is so much waste in federal aviation that needs to be eliminated even without budget cuts

HRE's picture

The airport you mention closing the tower for lack of operations is one thing, but closing the tower on a major metropolitan airport, within close proximity of a major US Air Force Base is asking for trouble. Student pilots are rampant in these areas, and are from all walks of life ranging from english as a 2nd or 3rd language to young or renewing pilots that are fixated in the cockpit, behind the airplane, etc..

There is a lot of waste in federal programs, but that is never addressed, anyway. Cutting NDBs, VORs, etc. is yet another feel-good measure to reduce "unnecessary costs" that decrease safety, as well. There are a lot of reasons GPS cannot be trusted as the only source of navigation. In particular, some restricted areas perform GPS jamming operations, rendering them useless. This happened to me while flying in a narrow corridor between adjacent restricted airspace. Had I not had my VOR already dialed in and following it I could have easily drifted into one of these areas, both of which, perform high altitude rocket flights, as well as explosives testing and military training ranges.

Arthur Johns's picture

Tower closures would make it more difficult in the busy airports, but the procedures would be the same as they are at the uncontrolled airports. As long as the centers are still fully operational, IFR traffic will function normally. There are many pilots that fly out of uncontrolled fields and get their clearances in the air. The busier airports will have to space themselves (airplanes) further apart and be extra vigilant for traffic normally monitored by a tower controller.

Pilots could volunteer to work VFR traffic in the towers and provide a margin of safety, but liability might be called into question.

James's picture

FAA has 800 million set aside for a new PR program. More than enough to cover the "cuts" that don't even exist. So less people will fly, hurting the airlines, the economy and yes the federal government revenues. Once again the Obama administration has cut their own throat.

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