FAA Devising Budget Cut Measures

FAA senior staff are expected to outline details early this week of the implementation of $600 million in budget 

cuts are expected to outline details early this week of the implementation of $600 million in budget cuts mandated by the sequestration measures signed into law by President Obama over the weekend. Last week, a letter to FAA employees from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta outlined the broad strokes of the plan, which will include furloughing most employees for at least a couple of days a month and closing or curtailing operations at 160 towers. An FAA spokesman told AVweb over the weekend that the nitty gritty of implementing the plan, including the timing of the measures, will be communicated to staff this week. It’s expected that most of the measures won’t be implemented for about a month because of notice requirements for employees. A glimpse of what might be coming was the subject of a Feb. 26 meeting between high-ranking FAA officials and members of the full range of affected aviation organizations. One of the attendees issued awidely circulated memo that might illustrate the mood at 800 Independence Ave.



Henry Ogrodzinski, president of the National Association of State Aviation Officials, said FAA officials, including Huerta, his ATO chief David Grizzle and a few others, were joined by Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari in what Ogrodzinski termed a “serious, maybe even somber” session in the FAA’s round room. The furloughs and tower closures were explained and it was also pointed out that as navaids and radars inevitably fail, not all of them will be fixed. Only those on a so-called “minimum operations network” will be restored. Ogrodzinski also said the officials stressed the 10-year term on the cuts and quoted Porcari as describing sequestration as “a glide path down to the new normal.”



Boeing: Workforce Cuts Unrelated To Battery


Boeing has announced plans to shed hundreds of contract jobs at its North Charleston, S.C., facility where it builds 787 Dreamliners, but says the cuts are unrelated to current problems with the aircraft. The company said the cuts have already begun and are expected to run through 2013 as part of a cost-reduction initiative that pre-dated the aircraft’s ongoing battery issues. At the same time, and over the same period, Boeing says it plans in 2013 to double the pace of production of 787 airliners made at the plant and a facility in Washington state.



Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel told The Wall Street Journal, “As we progress in improving efficiencies in our processes, training our entry-level employees, and growing the experience of our team in South Carolina, we expect to continue to reduce reliance” on contract labor. The reductions will reportedly hit contract positions and spread to staff only through attrition — Boeing intends to not replace workers who retire, leave or are promoted. Meanwhile, the company in late February sent a proposal to the FAA regarding modifications to the lithium ion battery system that ignited in two separate incidents aboard line aircraft and led to grounding of the entire worldwide fleet of 50 Dreamliners. The manufacturer hopes the FAA will clear the jets back into service by April.




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