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Sequestration and General Aviation

Now that the threat of The Sequestration has materialized, we can all hope our political leaders will finally be able to go to the mattresses on the issues of the debt and deficit. But with so much being made of the dire consequences that could befall the aviation infrastructure, I thought I should pass along some information that will help us all anticipate the potential adjustments that could become reality.

First of all, most of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) budget is, by law, exempt from the Sequester. We can take some comfort in this as it means expenditures for maintenance and improvements of runways and other infrastructure are deemed to be essential spending and are therefore ineligible for reductions.; The more vulnerable expenditures are those falling under the FAA’s operations budget, which include the scheduling of personnel, contract work from vendors, and preventative maintenance for non-essential facilities.

One area that is being considered for spending cuts is the over 200 FAA-operated control towers at smaller, outlying airports, many of which are located in both the Southern California and Bay Areas. These aerodromes could be subject to reductions in their hours of operation and, in the extreme case, outright. Flights to non-tower airfields can still be conducted safely with existing procedures that have been around for 40 years; however, the reality is that the traffic flow to and from these airports could be slowed by an aerial version of a speed bump.

Overall the FAA has stated emphatically that safety will not be compromised as a result of funding reductions resulting from the effects of sequestration. We are confident that our regulators will be true to their word and will monitor the air traffic system throughout whatever transition is coming.

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