The FAA announced today that 149 federal contract towers will close beginning April 7 as part of the agency’s plan to trim its budget by $637 million in Fiscal Year 2013 under sequestration. Two weeks ago, the FAA released a list of 238 towers potentially facing closure.
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News about governmental decisions affecting aviation and aerospace.
A celebrity pilot who advocates for general aviation and a determined senator were no match this week for the FAA’s plans to close the towers at up to 238 U.S. airports in an effort to trim costs required under the budget sequester. The FAA planned to announce a finalized closure list on Monday, but the agency delayed its release until tomorrow due to the overwhelming number of appeals to keep the towers open.
The UK’s air passenger duty (APD) tax, which has been in effect for the airlines for several years, will officially be extended to business aircraft passengers on April 1. APD applies only to aircraft taking off from a UK airport, meaning it is a departure tax, based on the number of chargeable passengers, the distance to their destination and the “class” in which they are traveling.
With the FAA set to announce its finalized cost-cutting plan under sequestration on Monday–which could result in the closing of nearly 170 air traffic control towers and other agency facilities–NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen sent a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to outline the business aviation community’s “significant concerns” with the plan and offer proposals for mitigating the situation.
NBAA is supporting an amendment brought forward by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) that would halt the FAA’s plan to close nearly 170 ATC towers and other facilities in the U.S. Noting the integral role of the towers in the nation’s aviation system, NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen said, “It is important to keep as many as possible in operation during these difficult economic times…The Moran amendment will ensure that citizens in every corner of the U.S. continue to have access to our national aviation system.”
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) sent a letter today to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, urging him to stop cuts from sequestration that will “disproportionately” affect the safety of general aviation operations. “The recommended cuts will have unacceptable consequences for the nation and the flying community,” AOPA president and CEO Craig Fuller wrote to Huerta.
Pending a judgment against Associated Air Center that could total as much as $49 million, the Dallas Love Field-based company is already planning an appeal. In the suit, brought by Tary Network and Citadella International Group in a Dallas district court, attorneys claimed that Associated and related entities engaged in a breach of contract “that led to tens of millions in losses for the jet owners, including lost profits, out-of-pocket damages and lost value.”
India’s Business Aviation Operators Association is disappointed that the government’s new budget does not have anticipated boosts for the industry. In particular, it hoped that tax changes would have stimulated the development of regional airports, which would in turn have created much needed capacity for business aviation traffic. It did contain a change to customs duty rules that gives maintenance providers up to one year to use imported spares and get relief from duties.
The lingering effects from sequestration have taken a heavy toll on the 2013 military airshow and demonstration season, as multiple public outreach events and at least one high-profile team have seen their entire schedule scrubbed due to budget cuts.
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) held a meeting yesterday at Heli-Expo to share its experience with the government/industry working group designed to rewrite FAR Part 23 certification rules for fixed-wing aircraft and encourage the helicopter industry to apply the model for possible revision of Parts 27 and 29 helicopter certification standards.