WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS), which represents over 11,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees, including systems specialists, aviation safety inspectors, aeronautical specialists and administrative personnel, has been monitoring the situation related to the FAA furloughs and sequestration and is reporting on significant impacts to aviation maintenance, efficiency and performance. At airports and air traffic control facilities across the country, work is being deferred, equipment is not getting fixed, and flights are being delayed or diverted as a result of the sequestration budget cuts and the furloughing of the FAA workforce. Just last night:
At Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport, radio and telephone communication capability was lost due to routine battery discharge tests. The systems specialist with the most experience was on furlough at the time of the incident. Systems specialists on site attempted to contact him but, even though he is geographically located near the facility, he was prevented from responding due to restrictions placed on furloughed employees. Had the systems specialist not been on furlough, the outage could have been minimized and delays reduced.
When the glide slope at the Long Island Mac Arthur Airport failed, a Southwest Airlines flight was diverted to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. While the policy for this equipment is immediate restoral, due to sequestration and furloughs, it was changed to next-day restoral. When inclement weather developed last night and the glide slope was out of service, flights had to be diverted. At press, the glide slope remains out of service.
PASS is learning of additional impacts nationwide, including open watches, increased restoration times, delays resulting from insufficient funding for parts and equipment, modernization delays, missed or deferred preventative maintenance, and reduced redundancy. For example:
In Indiana, at the Columbus Municipal Airport, equipment used to indicate approach paths was out an additional five days due to lack of available resources.
In Maryland, at Andrews Air Force Base, a lack of resources resulting from sequestration is preventing the completion of a project related to the air conditioning unit responsible for cooling the radar. The lack of optimal conditions could result in the loss of primary radar.
Due to FAA employees on furlough days in Southern Michigan, there have been issues with equipment, remotely controlling systems and contractors performing work without adequate supervision.
As a result of the budget cuts, a broken gate cannot be fixed at the Battle Creek Flight Inspection Office in Michigan, causing security issues. The facility houses airplanes and other systems and equipment that should be appropriately monitored and secured.
In addition, there have been open watches on radars and weather equipment in the Philadelphia/New Jersey area; delays due to insufficient funding for parts or equipment in the New York/New Jersey area, Texas, Indiana, Michigan and Iowa; and missed or deferred preventative maintenance in Texas, Washington State, California, Wyoming and Alaska.
“The furloughs at the FAA must end now,” said PASS National President Mike Perrone. “Lawmakers must stop the furloughs immediately and work to develop a plan that repeals sequestration. The furloughs are not yet a week old and we are learning of more problems every day. Without a solution that stops these needless furloughs, this will only be the beginning.”