The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s proposed sequestration could expunge the U.S. of nearly 2 billion pounds of airfreight capacity, according to a new study conducted by the Aerospace Industries Association and Econsult Corp. The budget cuts — which are scheduled to take effect in approximately 140 days — could also strip the U.S. of 132,000 aviation jobs and zap $80 billion a year from the nation’s GDP, the report indicates.
The AIA and Econsult Corp. further asserted that the U.S. economy could lose $80 billion annually by 2035 as a result of the FAA budget cuts, in addition to seeing an annual loss of 1 billion to 2 billion pounds of transported airfreight. The looming sequestration will also impair passenger operations, the report indicated, resulting in 37 million-to-73 million fewer passengers a year.
“If sequestration is not stopped, it will be by far the most devastating budget cut to the FAA in its 54 years,” Former Secretary of Transportation and Congressman Norman Mineta said in a statement. “The FAA is a critical safety organization that regulates our national air transportation system. Putting it at risk is folly beyond comparison.”
Sequestration will also delay deployment of the Next Generation Air Traffic Control System by a decade or more, according to the study. NetGen, which advocates say will reduce carbon emissions by 216 metric tonnes and save 27 million hours in flight delays, is currently slated to take full effect in 2025.
To Stephen Mullin, vice president and principal of Econsult Corp. and author of the study, the budget cuts’ effect on NetGen “reveals the draconian effect of sequestration on the FAA.” In a statement, Mullin said, “Sequestration would force the FAA to slash operations, bringing gridlock to the skies today, or de-fund modernization and infrastructure work. The closer we study sequestration, the more destructive it turns out to be.”