Air Traffic Controller Furloughs Again on October 1, 2013? Top Stories for June 28, 2013

Top stories in aviation for Friday, June 28, 2013:

  1. Are you ready for round two of sequester related delays?  Round Two air traffic control towers furloughs seemed to be headed our way on October 1, 2013, unless Congress can find another funding source other than the Airport Improvement Program.  In order to get the air traffic controllers back to work this Spring, Congress approved the transfer of $253 million from AIP to pay for the furloughed air traffic controllers (and the contract towers).  Since AIP also supports all of the FAA’s infrastructure programs at airports across the U.S., depleting it yet again seems like a poor solution to the problem.  So, unless Congress can come up with an alternative source of funds, it looks like we may looking at furloughed air traffic controllers again in the Fall.
  2. On the other hand, funding for contract towers seems to have friends in high places.  Both the Senate Appropriations Committee and House Appropriations Committee have included dedicated funding for contract towers in their spending bills for the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration.  Both bills include around $140 million for the contract tower program and $10 million for the cost share program.  It seems that the contract towers have more support in Congress than the air traffic controllers, despite the fact that it was the delays caused by the furloughed air traffic controllers that forced Congress to act.
  3. There has been an interesting development in New York regarding communities surrounding LaGuardia and JFK airport desire for a noise study to be done.  The New York State legislature passed a bill last week that requires a noise study be done at LaGuardia and JFK airports, called a “Part 150 Noise Compatibility Program.”  According to the statute and the regulations, this type of study is voluntary on the part of the airport, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the operator of LaGuardia, JFK and Newark airports, have resisted performing such a study.  However, because PANYNJ is what is called an “Interstate Compact” agency created by the states of New York and New Jersey, it must follow the directions of the legislatures of New York and New Jersey.  Thus, if New Jersey passes a similar bill, the Port Authority would be required to do the Part 150 study.
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