We’ll Get Cut, Too

What’s that old saying? Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that man behind the tree. It looks like aviation is now that guy behind the tree.

With the federal budget sequestration set for March 1 it’s starting to become clear what the across the board cuts to the federal budget will mean for aviation. And it will be significant.

The FAA, along with other departments and agencies, will share in the budget cuts. The FAA is essentially a people organization with the huge bulk of its spending for salaries and personnel expense. That means the only place to make meaningful savings is by furloughing staff.

Controllers are the biggest group of FAA employees so the ATC ranks will be thinned. Plans leaking out of the FAA call for controllers to be furloughed on a rolling schedule of perhaps one day every two weeks, or maybe more. That will mean closing of some controller sector positions, more miles in trail for traffic, and inevitable delays. It’s not impossible that whole facilities such as control towers or approach control facilities could be closed temporarily.

FSDO staff will also be furloughed causing delays in all types of FAA activities. Every type of airman, aircraft, airport or operational certification or approval will be held up for who knows how long. That may not seem like a big deal unless it is your project or license that sits on the desk.

The military is also facing broad cuts and that will deal a crushing blow to many, many air shows across the country. Obviously, the Navy Blue Angles and Air Force Thunderbird jet teams will be grounded. But so will every other military hardware appearance at air shows. And most air shows rely on the spectacular performances of military pilots and military aircraft to attract crowds. Already several shows hosted by military bases have been cancelled in anticipation of sequestration.

Because the military, like the civilian government agencies and departments, will be required to make across the board cuts it only makes sense to trim the non-essential spending first. To keep arms, fuel, food and pay flowing to the front line troops, air shows and recruiting activities must be cut first.

At EAA we’re fortunate that the big Oshkosh show is still months away and, with luck, there could be a deal in Washington that would rationalize spending cuts and make military participation possible. But air shows scheduled in March and April are already being told that military aircraft and personnel can’t participate.

One reason that the sequestration budget cuts will be so disruptive is that nearly half of the government’s fiscal year has already passed. That means the effect of a budget cut is doubled because the full reduction in spending must be made in the remaining half of the fiscal year.

If you feel strongly about sequestration and the cuts it will bring the only possible remedy is to contact your congressman and senators. Spending reduction seems inevitable, but are rigid across the board budget cuts the best way to go? That’s a question only Washington can answer. But it seems to me that all of aviation, especially air shows, and the military, are in line for disproportionate suffering if the sequestration cuts become real on March 1. What do you think?

If you would like to contact your senators or congressman EAA has a new online capability for members to use called Rally Congress. This online service identifies your congressman and senators based on your residence. Rally Congress will help you format an electronic letter and deliver it promptly. Rally Congress service works with Congressional staffers to be sure the electronic letters are in a format that is most effective, and are delivered to the correct email address so they will be read.

At this time we at EAA think it is helpful to urge your representative and senators to join the GA Caucus. Members of the GA Caucus take a special interest in issues involving private flying. In the past the Caucus has been helpful in passing the Pilots’ Bill of Rights, defeating proposed user fees, and making sure GPS signals are protected from interference.

To use Rally Congress to urge your congressional delegation to support the GA Caucus go to this link: http://eaa.org/rallycongress  Those in Washington may not always do what we want, but I do know they listen to voters like you.

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42 Responses to We’ll Get Cut, Too

  1. Pingback: Impact of Sequestration | High Altitude Flying Club


    Your blog is amazing. With all the critical services that are in jeopardy, you are moaning about air shows. I can’t believe it.

    • Chris Owens says:

      Well, it is an aviation blog, after all, which covers airshows and other related activity. There are other places to discuss additional cuts.

    • Roger Halstead says:

      This is far more than “just an air shoe” It is publicity for GA and shows the public that aviation is not just for the rich.

  3. Jeff Schlueter says:

    Painful, yes, but this country has to learn to cut back at some point, and every citizen needs to realize that maybe s/he won’t get all the same things they are used to. We need to learn to live on less government outlay. Actually let me rephrase that: we need to learn to live with a balanced budget and not let the government keep borrowing from our future. We all know that eventually some negotiations will kick in and the worst aspects of the sequestration will eventually be overcome, but as a first painful step teaching us to live within our means I am all for it.

  4. Stu Baxter says:

    “I am in favor of cutting spending” until my ox is being gored. Come on of all the bloated over staffed Federal train wrecks the FAA is a poster child. Can anyone suggest that they get more efficient? Or is that total heresy? Anyone with one ounce of management ability could go in there and save hundreds of millions if not billions and not compromise flight safety one whit.

  5. Bustin says:

    It pains me to hear that military appearances may/will be cut at airshows, as well as other “ripples” in aviation as well. However, what needs to happen is the flying public must get involved to bring back the “Golden Era” of aviation. The days of barnstorming, local air races, pancake fly-ins, (perhaps without the pancakes) must return. Remember, general aviation started from grass roots and centered around bon fires. Day time landings occured on dirt/gravel fields with one windsock in the center. Night landings were accomplished from flare guns lighting up where the touch down points were and where the end was. Bring that all back! Obviously the retards in government cannot figure anything out…so it falls to you and I…who’s with me!!!!

    • Rodney says:

      The problem is the “grass soots” can’t afford it. Especially with having to spend thousands on insurance every year, thousands on your annual which could turn into ???? and the gut wrenching bureaucracy that can turn your beautiful plane into a statue with one AD. The real growth in aviation lately has been experimental aviation precisely because of those issues. You can do your own annual (condition inspection) as the builder and the work, which controls costs, surprise ADs don’t technically apply to you even though most people agree it is a good idea to follow them if they are of concern. Another problem is “grumby old man issues” where even if there were a neighbor or acquaintance that might enjoy a ride as the pilot population ages the offers of a ride or to come out to the hangar are few and far between. We have all seen those planes rotting away on the apron but the few I have enquired about that might still be salvagable I either get a not interested or some price as if it were 6 months from manufacture instead of a near wreck leaking oil and with flat tires. More local events would definitely help but we have to publicise them and promote them individually. Another issue is insurance and lawsuits.

  6. Jay says:

    Well, we could eliminate third class medicals. Oh, wait, we can’t do that. Think of all the planes that would suddenly fall from the sky.

  7. Kayak Jack says:

    Another thought is to quit a president’s vacations, massive payments to illegal aliens, and foreign aid to countries that don’t like us. Oh, and separate medical care and retirement systems for Congress.

    Don’t hold your breath.

  8. SkyGuy says:

    It’s all about the $$$$.

  9. Thomas Boyle says:

    The problem with the FAA being short of cash, is that it can’t get on with signing the waivers and sign-offs that wouldn’t need waiving and signing off if the FAA hadn’t created the requirements for waivers and sign-offs to begin with. So, blanket-waive whole sections of the regulations (the need for medicals for private aviation – all of it – for example), and stop spending money on silly enforcement (people conducting ramp checks to look for out-of-date parachutes) and watch the savings mount! The FAA can get on with regulating the airlines, who want and need it; the taxpayers save money; and personal flying goes back to being, well, a personal matter. Win-win-win!
    Oh, and while we’re at it, they could save a bunch of money on Presidential TFRs and the associated fighter escorts and pilot prosecutions by either a) eliminating them or b) keeping the President in one place, so folks can just mark Him on the chart and get on with their business, without having to worry that He might need a round of golf.

  10. Stu Baxter says:

    The stories all of us who are actually involved with the industry and therefore engaged with the FAA could tell, but then who would we tell them to? Who in government cares? Maybe that’s why this is for the best, a mindless hatchet to government agencies. I hope there is a big bite out of the EPA personnel also. That will be a very good thing for the economy.

  11. E. Evans says:

    My flying pocket book is not endless. The People of these United States pocket books are not endless. They need to balance their checkbook just like me. First it was my money I earned from my working. Then all of you decided that I have more than enough money and you need to take it for your ideas and plans in the name of “progress” and the “common good”. In reality it is coveteousness and greed by the government. Who is the government? Why you and me who vote in people we want to to tax everyone else to benefit me and my friends needs, no matter if it is germane or not, to good governing. When the people discover they can vote for themselves other peoples monies that is one of the downfalls of democracies. History repeated. Look at the history of Greece, ancient and new!

  12. Stu Baxter says:

    Bring on the sequester. Maybe we can explain to them how to make things work and what to eliminate.

  13. John Williams says:

    I am always amused at the Baby Boomers who say we need to live within our means, but
    just wait until Medicare is cut and hear them scream. Oh yes, the Baby Boomers “deserve” Medicare because they have paid into it all these years. But when I reach age 65–well, the first time I become sick, I should just be given a bottle of Jack Daniels and pushed out in to the snow and told to take one for the team. No, I don’t deserve any Medicare, even though I have paid into it since I was sixteen years old.

    Funny how in Sport Aviation, I always get to read about a featured kit builder who was able to build their dream airplane upon retirement. I used to have those dreams.
    But now I realize the sobering truth which is: the first time my wife or I become ill upon retirement, we will become destitute. There will be no Medicare for us, which is something recent generations have not had to worry about.

  14. Robert says:

    I have worked for public companies who have to make a budget cut and we sit down and look at how we can deliver the same services at a lower cost. Every company has some fat or inefficiencies. It’s not fun it painful to have to do but easily doable.

    Not the Feds – there is no fat in the FAA they have to resort immediately to furloughs and cutting services ? This is being done to make us all feel bad. I bet any decent mgr could go into the FAA and cut 10% of the budget and us users wouldn’t notice any drop in service levels. Time to grow up Mr FAA and manage your business.

    Sorry but our tax revenue does not support the spending of our government – taxes have to go up or spending goes down. Time to face the facts .

    • Jeff G says:

      When government workers start to be furloughed, will Congress include themselves without pay? If they did that, that would be a big savings……. but I’m not holding my breath. However, they should be forced to take the same furlough since they are the ones behind this mess as well as many others.

  15. Bill says:

    Hundreds of control towers should be closed totally and permanently. Many that operate 24 hours should be run for 12. Leave the lights on, no problem.

  16. Jimmy Young says:

    It’s a red herring. A reduction in the growth of spending in government is exactly what we need to occur. I’m 100% for it. When I’m running low on $, I work more to make more, I don’t use my grandchild’s credit card to make up the difference.

  17. Dave mccoy says:

    Reading all these seems to reinforce macs first point, tax or cut somebody that ain’t me.

  18. Rich J says:

    Sorry Mac, I can’t support your call to save the military involvement in aviation shows. I would rather see us NOT borrow from China than see an F-18 blasting through the skies, and any money the military has, and they have plenty, should go to the grunt holding the rifle in a place that’s trying to blow him away. SNF, Osh, and all the other airshows will do just fine without the government providing fast movers.

  19. John Turner says:

    IMPOSSIBILITIES_Law never does anything constructive. We have had enough of
    legislators promising to do that which laws cannot do.-Henry Ford. Leaves of Gold,pg189.

  20. John Turner says:

    IMPOSSIBILITIES_Law never does anything constructive. We have had enough of
    legislators promising to do that which laws cannot do.-Henry Ford. Leaves of Gold,pg189.

  21. Bill Tomlinson says:

    With ATC facilities closed down, we shall just have to negotiate our own collision avoidance. Then – Shock! Horror! – we might discover that most of ATC is actually not needed at all.

    • Stu Baxter says:

      The airport I fly in and out of would be fine with the tower only being manned on weekends. The rest of the time we could do just fine talking to approach control and announce our arrival.

  22. Robert Jans says:

    You could wipe out just about your entire budget deficit at once by legalising drugs so the trade can be taxed. You avoid the cost to protect the mexican border and airport of entry services in this regard and avoid many deaths (mostly at the mexican side) in the process. Drug use will not or barely increase because die-hard users always find a way and the (illegal) money to acquire them. I speak out of experience living in Holland where many drugs are legal, hence taxed. I’m talking ten of billions of $$$ in your case, maybe hundreds of billions annually.

  23. John Hunt says:

    The real point of the budget battle is between followers of Keynes and Hayek. If you don’t understand their macro economic theories the budget battle doesn’t make sense.
    More broadly it is a question of do we accept data based thinking or gut feelings.

  24. Steve Carter says:

    Sequestration is a joke ! 84 billion? The government (fed) is printing 84 Billion a month! Wake up people! How about 884 Billion the first year? That would be more like it! More lies and BS from Washington to protect their Chronies and special interests at your expense! Wake Up! Nap time is Over!

  25. Brend says:

    Ground the Air Force One fleet. That will save millions!
    Oh, but the Obama family must keep all their very expensive perks.

  26. Bill Greenley says:

    With all the doom and gloom I am hearing about every essential service being cut because of the $84 billion dollar sequestor. I have an idea, if that $84 billion is what is paying for every essential service, lets keep this $84 billion dollars worth of sending, and get rid of the other $3,716 billion planned to be spent this year. There goes the deficit. But seriously, this trimming of spending growth is miniscule.

  27. Tim says:

    The problems with government spending and mismanagement go back decades. But, unfortunately we keep electing left and right wing ideolgues and corporate employees. They have no interest or motivation to put citizens, all of us, before party or their employers. Fixing this mess requires a rational conversation about it.

  28. Rich J says:

    Just saw the FAA letter on which facilities might be cut. The ones on the list are mostly airports without commercial service, and where there are few if any GA flights at night, and few during the day. Yes, we could do with all these cuts and a lot more. If rational people were in charge, they’d be looking at taking 1.2 Trillion out of the budget.

    • Tim says:

      One of the few things with bipartisan support in our government is GA. Lets try to stay focused on that. I agree that government needs to go to rehab for stupid spending and rule reform. The cold turkey approach will hurt real people but it may be an intervention that gets rational change moving at what maybe too high a cost.

  29. george washington says:

    The price Americans pay for spreading democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  30. George Nielsen says:

    Mac, what you write almost goes for good news, at least under the circumstances. When I started reading your blog I was prepared for much worse. Such as: an annual tax on aircraft owners, like in Italy, a tax on fuel similar to that enforced in the European Union, or a tax on take-offs or landings. Such a tax would really hit general aviation.

    For the record: in Italy the Monti government has introduced an annual tax for all who own cars with an output in excess of 250 HP, on private boats and aircraft. I reckon that in Italy owners of such cars, boats and aircraft are “the men behind the tree”. At first even visiting aircraft were charged if they stayed in Italian territory for more than 48 hours. Imagine if one landed and were caught in bad weather or suffered technical problems. It was not clear whether even such a short stay would result in the full annual tax or whether one would have to pay on a pro rata basis. This has been amended so that it now takes a stay in excess of six months to qualify an aircraft as an “Italian resident”.

    I wonder whether the general aviation community is willing to pay taxes like in Italy or for avgas at prices on the level of those in European Union countries in order to enable a military presence at air shows. If not then air show organisers will have to be creative in order to render their shows attractive to the public even in the absence of an appearance by the armed forces.

  31. Stu Baxter says:

    House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Ranking Member John Thune (R-SD), and House Subcommittee on Aviation Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) released a statement Friday in response to the Administration’s announcement regarding sequestration’s potential impact on the FAA and U.S. aviation.

    “We are disappointed by the Administration creating alarm about sequestration’s impact on aviation,” the statement says. “Before jumping to the conclusion that furloughs must be implemented, the Administration and the agency need to sharpen their pencils and consider all the options. Prematurely outlining the potential impacts before identifying other savings is not helpful.

    “Congress has been requesting information from the FAA since August, but nothing was provided, and today’s exaggerations are not backed up by any real financial data. The agency is well positioned to absorb spending reductions without compromising the safety or efficiency of the National Airspace System.”

    Thune, Shuster, and LoBiondo said that while the United States continues to see a contracted airline industry, the FAA has received significant funding increases in recent years. While domestic flights are down 27% from pre-9/11 levels, over the last ten years the FAA’s annual budget has increased almost $3 billion, or 41%, in its Operations account. Each year, the agency spends approximately $500 million on consultants and $200 million on supplies and travel, which is more than the $600 million Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said would be realized by reducing air traffic services and furloughing personnel.

  32. Ed DeBolt says:

    The answer to the whole problem is underneath our feet!

    We have more oil and natural gas beneath of us than all of the middle east countries combined.

    All we have to do is tap these resources.
    We have no leadership whatsoever in Washington DC.

    Replace our leadership and lets tap our resources. We could pay off the national debt and have a huge national surplus.
    All we need is the leadership to get it done !

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