July 31, 2012
By Elizabeth A Tennyson
When the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, leadership in Congress has indicated there should be no threat of a government shutdown under a six-month funding deal reached by House and Senate leadership. On July 31, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner reached a deal to keep the government funded at current levels through March 2013. The full Congress will likely vote on the resolution in September.
“While this is good news, it does nothing to prevent sequestration from taking effect in 2013,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “If nothing is done to address the budget deficit between now and December, we can still expect to see massive cuts at the FAA and throughout government come next year.”
Sequestration means automatic and indiscriminate budget cuts across just about every sector of government in an attempt to slash $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit. The idea behind sequestration is that it would create such draconian and unacceptable cuts that Congress would instead choose to a more deliberative approach, making cuts account by account.
Under sequestration, it is reported that the FAA’s air traffic organization will have to lay off an estimated 2,000 employees, including 1,200 air traffic controllers and 900 technicians. The agency also would likely close more than 200 contract towers. Another 600 safety and aircraft certification personnel would be lost through attrition and not replaced. The NextGen air traffic control modernization initiative would not be spared either, potentially receiving cuts of up to 8 percent or $160 million.
“Along with budget cuts will come attempts to raise revenue, and for the GA community that almost certainly means a new and vigorous fight over user fees,” Fuller said. “A six-month budget deal doesn’t mean we can relax—and all of us at AOPA will be following this issue closely.”
Director of Government Affairs and Executive Communications Elizabeth Tennyson joined AOPA in 1998, the same year she earned her private pilot certificate. She also holds an instrument rating and enjoys jumping out of planes almost as much as flying them.
FAA Information and Services,
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
The FAA on Feb. 23 issued a special airworthiness information bulletin recommending preflight inspection of Robinson R44 and R44 II main rotors.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) talks about the Pilots Bill of Rights II, which includes a provision to allow private pilots to fly an aircraft with up to six seats, weighing up to 6,000 pounds, VFR or IFR, without a third class medical certificate. The bill also reforms the NOTAM system, and provides more legal protections for pilots accused of regulatory infractions.
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