How FAA Budget Troubles Affected Two Airlines

By Sean Broderick
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

A survey of 30 repair stations by their primary trade group, the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), found that 61% experienced delays during the shutdown. Some of the holdups included approvals that repair stations needed to win to start work. Losses in dollar figures were hard to obtain, but ARSA cites one repair station's estimate that it lost $2,000 each day the FAA was hampered by furloughs, while another facility projected a total loss of $100 million during the shutdown.

FAA got a bit of a boost in the continuing resolution budget deal that ended the partial shutdown, seeing $100 million added to its coffers for fiscal 2014. “It's an acknowledgement that the cuts we are facing have serious consequences on both the FAA workforce and the sustainability of the system,” Huerta says of the funding increase. Still, he notes, FAA must cut hundreds of millions of 2014 dollars as part of sequestration. “We are operating at historically low levels of funding and the continuing resolution just keeps us at these reduced levels.”

Huerta says the agency will continue to “prioritize,” choosing which projects to tackle, and which to table.

If less-is-more is the new normal, he adds, then aviation needs a new approach to help FAA keep up with what it needs to do, and what industry wants it to do.

“I think we need to ask ourselves—and ask you, our stakeholders—whether we really want to, and need to, do everything the way we've always done it,” Huerta suggests, encouraging stakeholders to start “serious conversations about the structure of our aviation system, as well as the way to fund it.”

Acceptable alternatives to the current funding process will be tough to come by, as any changes will hit some industry segments more than others. But a year into a big helping of sequestration served with a side of shutdown, alternatives may seem more appetizing than the new status quo.

—Sean Broderick


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