Sequestration And The Pilot

Editor’s Note: In light of the impending sequestration we have chosen to delay posting the article on “Drones” in the National Airspace System.  Check back next week for the post on RPAs Over America.

Here we are, plunging over the fiscal cliff.  We can’t really tell how much further the fall is or how hard the impact will be, but one thing is certain: nothing will ever be as it was.  Sequestration measures will likely be implemented beginning 1 March and will have wide-reaching impacts on aviators in both the military and private sectors.  So what are those impacts?  Will pilots be left languishing on the ground staring skyward?  Will air travel come to a screeching halt?  Probably not, but there are some things of which you need to be aware.

Both general and commercial aviation will be affected by a $1 billion budget cut in the Department of Transportation (DOT).  According to a Christian Science Monitor report, 60% of the burden will be borne by the FAA.  FAA controllers (you know, the folks we need to keep pilots and passengers safe and positively deconflicted from other aircraft and terrain) make up the majority of DOT employees and will suffer furloughs.  The good news – and I say that sarcastically – is they are already suffering from a controller shortage.  Talk about kicking someone when they’re down!  Hopefully those in charge will make the cuts in the form of scaling back their expensive use of consultants ($500 million annually) and be able to decrease their travel/supply budget ($200 million).

(see also – http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/16/travel/faa-budget-cuts)

The military is certainly not looking brighter.  Yes, air shows at Air Force bases across the country are getting canceled.  But the real threat is to our combat capability.  Gen Mike Hostage said sequestration will reduce Air Combat Command’s flying operations by two-thirds.  TWO-THIRDS!

Let that sink in for a moment.  Our greatest assets are not our aircraft.  They are our pilots.  We have enjoyed the capability of allowing our pilots to train as much as necessary to be the most proficient, most adept fighting Air Force on the planet.  The failure of our congress to pass a budget will do more damage to our combat capability than the best planned air strike or weapons delivery by any adversary.

From my personal connection with this situation I can tell you sequestration could potentially end up costing us, as a country, more than we’re saving.  You see, the military has already signed contracts and purchased certain goods and services.  If the money is not delivered to fulfill contractual obligations, then the contractors will sue for damages.  If the contractors are unable to pay their employees, the unions will sue the contractors who will then add that amount to the damages they are already claiming.  (Think: self-licking ice-cream cone.)

Here are some links to for you to find more details on this stuff:

The Economist

Forbes

AOPA

The bottom line is this: our government works for US.  If they aren’t getting the job done right, we need to do what they’re about to do to hundreds of thousands of hard workers: furlough them.  How do we do this?  We make our voices heard.  We write our congressional representatives and join advocacy groups.  I’m no political expert, and I hate this feeling of helplessness we’re all experiencing right now.  Something has to change.

We’d love to hear what you have to say about this.  Drop us a comment or send us an email!  Most importantly, may you weather this fiscal storm and come out on top!

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