NATCA head says sequestration will cripple U.S. aviation
Feb. 28, 2013, Washington, D.C. - National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) president Paul Rinaldi warned Feb. 27 that the sequester will affect “every passenger, every general aviation pilot, and every freight hauler” and is “reckless” in its across-the-board nature and in not differentiating between essential and non-essential personnel.
Speaking at the monthly AeroClub of Washington luncheon just two days before the automatic cuts kick in, Rinaldi said the FAA has little flexibility to move money to avoid cuts to air traffic controllers. Republicans have argued that the agency can cut back on other spending and shift money around to avoid furloughs and delays.
“They have very limited, if any, discretion on what they can cut,” Rinaldi said. “There just simply is not that much fat in the FAA operations budget to cut.”
Sequestration will “reduce the capacity of the national airspace system,” he continued because “every controller will have to take between 11 and 22 days of furlough between April and September.”
The cuts could be “permanent and almost impossible to reverse,” Rinaldi added. He also said that the impacts will be felt on April 7 because FAA must give 30 days’ notice for employee furloughs and those notices will not be sent until after the spending cuts have taken effect.
“Safety is our top priority and continues to be…” Rinaldi concluded, “…but this budget environment can destroy everything we’ve gained in air safety the last 100 years… we can’t let this happen.”