FlightWorks, along with the entire private aviation industry, has been following the sequestration events and how it will affect the aviation community. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), like every other federal agency, has been forced to reduce its annual non-defense discretionary budget by 8.2% or $1.35 billion. Much of the FAA’s budget is immune from these budget cuts, leaving FAA no choice but to cut some services that are currently provided. This includes primarily personnel (air traffic controllers, flight facility technicians, and forced furloughs on operations inspectors), and cuts to preventative maintenance and repair of FAA and airport facilities.
The potential effects on every-day users of the National Airspace System (NAS) are wide-reaching and may include:
Reduction in airport services and likely closure of some airport towers on April 1, 2013. FAA estimates that over 230 airports will close their control towers. This includes many airports frequented by our aircraft owners, including Cobb County-McCollum Airport (KRYY), Manassas Regional Airport (KHEF), and Fulton County-Brown Field (KFTY), to name just a few. The full list can be viewed with this link: http://www.faa.gov/news/updates/media/Facilities_Could_Be_Closed.pdf. FlightWorks safely operates at airports without control towers on a daily basis under both FAR Parts 91 and 135, so the lack of a control tower in itself does not impede operations under most circumstances. The more likely impact to your flying is in potential delays when operating at airports without a tower, especially when operating under instrument flight rules (IFR) which requires clearances for instrument takeoffs and approaches. This may have little or no impact on your flights, but the potential for delays increases when operating at airports without control towers.
Reduction in capacity and a slowdown within the NAS is a very real possibility. Airports, airlines, and passengers will all be immediately and directly affected by sequestration cuts that reduce air traffic services. Simply stated, the FAA may not have the resources necessary to operate the nation’s airspace system as efficiently as we have come to expect. This may result in increased delays due to longer ground holds.
If you travel internationally, delays to gain access back into the U.S. are reported at some airports due to overtime hours being cut for employees; and when clearing customs, not all ports of entry are accepting after-hours arrivals.
If you travel commercially, you may want to take a few extra minutes for TSA security checkpoints. Wait times are reportedly increasing at many U.S. airports due to reduced staffing.
This message should net be interpreted as alarmist; my purpose is to insure that you, as a FlightWorks customer, have the latest factual information regarding sequestration and how it may affect the operations of private aircraft as well as the potential affects should you travel on a commercial airline.
President and COO