Sequestration is going to be hitting the aviation industry right in the forehead. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is planning for over $600 million in spending cuts for the 2013 fiscal year. The government agency will not only be furloughing workers, but will also be reducing funding and closing over 100 air traffic control facilities, eliminate the overnight shift for at least 60 facilities, and reduce preventive maintenance and support for all air traffic control equipment. The high standards of safety in the aviation industry will also be affected. This will not only affect the efficiency of the aviation industry, but also the safety, and maintenance.
Possible Worker Furloughs: According to the FAA website, sequestration will force them to begin furloughs in April. This delay is due to the requirement that they give a 30-day notice prior to furloughs or lay-offs. A majority of the FAA’s 47,000 employees will be furloughed approximately one day per pay period. The furloughs will include all management and non-management employees working within the Air Traffic Organization.
Closure of over 100 ATC facilities and Elimination of overnight shift at 60 facilities: Sequestration will for the the FAA to close over 100 air traffic control towers at airports that have fewer than 150,000 flight operations or 10,000 commercial operations per year. This means that small regional airports such as LaCrosse, WI or Dothan Regional, AL will be losing their control towers. A full list of Air Traffic Control towers being closed can be found here. Larger airports such as Gen. Mitchell in Milwaukee will be losing their midnight shifts. You can find a list of the airports losing their midnight shifts here.
Reduced Preventative maintenance for all Air Traffic Control Equipment: The sequester will cause reduced preventive maintenance and will result in more down time of air traffic control equipment and a higher likelihood that there will be a failure in the equipment. The failure of equipment at an ATC facility could jeopardize hundreds of lives and result in more delays at airports.
Reduced Safety: Airlines and general aviation are required to pass certain inspections, given by the FAA. Due to reduced resources in the FAA, there will be a build-up of airplanes waiting to be inspected. This could mean the sequester will cause more flight cancellations and aircraft not receiving the quality inspection checks the FAA gives.
More Delays, Cancelled flights, and higher prices: Sequestration will cause more delays and higher airfare. The reduced number of ATC facilities limits the amount of aircraft that can be safely followed by the controllers. This will create more delays during peak times. These delays could regularly reach 90 minutes during peak times. The FAA expects that airlines will estimate these delays and will change their schedules and cancel flights so they do not go bankrupt. The consequence of these changes will be a rise in airline tickets to compensate for lost revenues.
More information about the FAA spending cuts can be found here.