FAA administrator tells Congress how agency is preparing for sequestration

WASHINGTON, D.C. — FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told a Congressional subcommittee Wednesday, Feb. 27, the agency has put in a hiring freeze, cut travel and is preparing for furloughs of employees as sequestration appears certain to become effective March 1.

huerta copyCuts in spending under sequestration take the FAA back to its level of spending in 2010, a reduction which Republican members of the subcommittee say should not be too difficult to meet. The FAA accounts for more than 60% of the Department of Transportation’s total budget. More than 85% of the FAA’s 47,000 employees are in field locations and the agency is looking facility by facility to see where cuts will be made, Huerta said.

Both small and metropolitan airports will be affected, Huerta told committee members. Airports with less than 150,000 operations annually or 10,000 commercial operations are considered for tower closures. Metropolitan areas may face partial closures. As an example, Huerta cited Chicago’s O’Hare Airport where there are two towers. Night operations might be reduced there, eliminating operations at one tower on two runways.

Huerta was also asked to consider cargo service as decisions are made to curtail service. Most cargo flights operate overnight and if service is curtailed, deliveries of goods could be curtailed, particularly if weather conditions require services of on-site personnel.

Representatives from two states urged the administrator to keep general aviation in mind as closing towers is considered. Rep. Nick J. Rahal II (D-W.Va.) told the administrator how important general aviation is to his state and urged him to keep the facilities operating. Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) made a similar plea, declaring the value of these GA airports to his state.

Several members of the Subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee were less than supportive of Huerta’s concerns about cutting expenses. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) commented that his state had cut expenses, has a balanced budget, fewer employees, and operates more efficiently. He said ways could certainly be found to cut $16 billion out of a budget of $627 billion.

Another member of the subcommittee reminded the administrator that members of Congress will also have to curtail expenses, perhaps furloughing or terminating members of their staffs.

Although the announced purpose of the hearing was to examine how the FAA was operating after passage of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 after going five years on multiple short-term extensions, most of the questions and discussion centered on the pending sequestration.

For more information: FAA.gov


  1. Buford Suffridge says

    These bureaucrats like to pretend like they can’t operate if they don’t have an increased budget each and every year. Huerta should be embarrassed to complain when, and I don’t necessarily even believe it, the FAA budget will only be cut back to a previous two year level. Wait until he gets his tax bill and gets hit with other hidden fees, fines and taxes under Obamacare and he’ll personally long for his 2010 level of take home pay. Of course I’m sure as a government bureaucrat he’ll be expecting the taxpayers to make up that difference for him with a huge salary increase; and perhaps even a bonus for “doing a good job.”

  2. Kent Misegades says

    More nonsensical fear-mongering from a federal government incapable of using zero-based budgeting as most good companies do. This cartoon describes the real problem – overspending:

    Shut down half of D.C. and we’ll have an unprecedented economic boom. Shut down towers at smaller airports. If the airport owner (cities, towns, counties) object, let them pay for it. Why must towers be operated by government employees?

  3. Richard says

    This sequestration is a joke. The budget is still larger than last year’s even with the cuts. The government’s appetite for spending has got to be brought to a halt. They are playing a fear game with the citizens of this great country. There is so much waste and so many unneeded government employees and so many unneeded departments. Its time to “bite the bulklet”.

  4. Mack says

    Closing towers is certainly easy, and welcomed by pilots, but I’d like to point out other waste, too.

    Much money is spent de-certifying medicals, then, re-certifying medicals, (through special issuances).

    I recall the FAA was petitioned by thousands of people to eliminate the third class and to allow for driver’s license medicals, as done in LSA flying.

    GA could really use a break, about now!

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