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FAA delays control tower closures

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The FAA is pushing back the closing date of 149 air control towers across the country.

Five of the towers are right here in Illinois.  The closings were scheduled for Sunday, but the date has been rescheduled to June 15.

The FAA says this delay will give Congress more time to figure out a long-term solution.

The towers are being shut down in response to the $637 million budget cut to the FAA from the federal sequester.

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  • PlayFair6

    What seems to be going unnoticed is the FAA has also furloughed all of its Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI). Just like control towers, each of these inspectors is in place because risks were identified to exist without them. According to the FAA, ASIs are safety critical positions responsible for ensuring the airlines operate at the highest level of safety in the public interest. ASIs carry out their work at crew training centers, repair stations, dispatch centers, hangers, airports and onboard thousands of flights each year. These are the same professionals that are (were?) supposed to make sure that 787 battery fix continues to work during actual passenger operations – not just on some workbench. The FAA says having ASIs perform inspections aboard revenue flights is in the best interests of aviation safety and the traveling public and makes a positive difference in safety. A lot of those travelers may now be asking how furloughing inspectors and slashing a program that’s in the best interest of their safety can possibly be a good idea. How indeed, especially since the potential exists for this to involve a considerable number of airline flights and ultimately passengers. Considering the total number of furlough days for all ASIs is 30,800 (2800 inspectors x 11 days), it would follow that 30,800 must also be close to the number of missed opportunities to perform en
    route inspections (at just 1 inspection per day).

    So how can this be a good idea? The answer is it can't be. Now, don’t get me wrong. The FAA has said it will focus on making safety their number one priority. But is the best way to do that really by slicing safety critical activities from a growing national airspace system for what amounts to 30,800 days of lost coverage? Incredibly, it appears this decision to furlough every ASI was not based on safety and there was no formal system analysis or risk assessment. These are methodologies, by the way, the agency is supposed to use and document when making such determinations regarding the national airspace system. No, these furloughs were simply the easiest way simple minded bureaucrats could avoid any meaningful decision making. As a frequent air traveler and one who is always happy to see an FAA inspector onboard my flight, I really hope this gets fixed soon.

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