Sequestration To Begin – Will Air Travel Be Impacted?

Sequestration is Coming - Will it Impact Air Travel?`

US National Debt – Will Sequestration Impact Air Travel?

Sequestration, the FAA, and Air Travel

Louisville, KY – March 1, 2013 ( Sequestration, what a word!  Sadly, our elected officials aren’t playing nicely as the mainstream media is providing a lot of coverage, primarily in soundbites.  There’s been talk about potential 90 minute waits to fly into some airports and rumors the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will slow down because a lack of employees. Will this happen?

When it comes to the TSA, there isn’t much that surprises me.  I’ll just get that out of the way.

As to Air Traffic Control (ATC) being slowed down, I really don’t believe it will despite the threats and notices which have gone out to some smaller towers. ATC is under control of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which is then part of the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

A previous regulator I interviewed doesn’t believe you’ll be encountering air traffic slow downs either.  I invite you to come along on the following journey and find out why.

First, what exactly is sequestration?

Lets start with Merriam-Webster for a definition:

1. The act of sequestering: The state of being sequestered (a jury in sequestration);
2. a: A legal writ authorizing a sheriff or commissioner to take into custody the property of a defendant who is in contempt until the orders of a court are complied with;
b: a deposit whereby a neutral depository agrees to hold property in litigation and to restore it to the party to whom it is adjudged to belong.

If you’d like, you can say it’s a legal order to take. When it comes to Washington D.C., it’s about the budget of the United States. What it comes down to is President Obama, the Democrats in the Senate, and the Republicans in the House cannot agree on a budget.

The spending cuts, or “to take”, is a result of law which requires a balanced budget, the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 to be precise.

When I did my most recent piece on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner battery woes, I had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Oliver McGee, an Aerospace Engineer and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Transportation for the DOT under President Clinton.  As I mentioned above, the FAA, which is in charge of Air Traffic Control, falls under the DOT.

As to the breakdown of actual budgets, McGee explained, “50% of the DOT budget goes to the FHA, or Federal Highway Administration, while 25% goes to the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration.”

When talking about the DOT, McGee further explained, “DOT is the main place where congress can take home the butter to their local constituents. Everything else in budget is earmarked and locked down. The DOT is extremely important to bring home the bacon and the butter.”

As to what’s going on in Washington, McGee said, “The comings and goings of the dubious US budget waxes and wains as the Washington Winds comes and goes and the Washington Whispers rises and falls.” 

Take a minute to digest the above quote, quite interesting I thought.

As to budgets, we did some fact checking here at FlyersPulse – The FAA budget has increased every year. The FAA’s budget is up 47% from 9/11 while air traffic is down 27% post 9/11, primarily a result of industry consolidation.

As to the current budget problems, McGee said, “Obama’s proposed budget is insanely ridiculous.” McGee further added, “as a result of budget disagreements, the Republicans won’t approve it (Obama’s budget) and we have gridlock.”

Regardless of what side of the fence you sit on, I believe it’s important to note the well known, but often overlooked fact that we’re 16 trillion dollars in debt here in the United States.

Before I go any further, I should point out Dr. Oliver McGee is unique — he made the leap across the aisle. No, not the aisle of an aircraft — McGee jumped to the other aisle — or, as the title of a recent book he wrote reads, “Jumping The Aisle, How I Became a Black Republican in The Age of Obama.”

Signals and Noise – Air Traffic Flows

In my discussion with McGee, he feels the sequester is being used as a political threat to get the budget the Obama administration wants using signals and noise. McGee said, “Obama is great when it comes to signals and noise — incredibly irresponsible signals and noise.”

As to the bottom line, McGee believes air travel will operate as is. McGee believes there’s no way the sequester will allow the FAA to be plastered all over the news.

In conclusion, McGee said, “Until Obama sits down with Republicans and has reasonable discussions, including budget of the DOT, we’re not going to have a solution.”

At the same time it’s also fair for me to note Obama is on record saying, “none of this is necessary”, blaming the Republicans.

As to who’s fault this is, I’ll leave it to you, the reader.

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