NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., 4 Oct. 2012. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Michael Huerta, during a speech at ATCA 57th annual conference and exposition this week, discussed the U.S. President’s 2013 budget request for more than $1 billion for NextGen, an increase of 11 percent over last year, and cautioned the air traffic control (ATC) community on the threat of sequestration.
“Our job at the FAA is first and foremost to enhance safety in every way we can. But we also want to work with you and all aviation stakeholders to continually foster innovation and improve our processes,” Huerta said in his keynote speech at the ATCA event. “NextGen is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the country, and the President’s budget for 2013 requests more than $1 billion for NextGen, an increase of 11 percent over last year.
“The entire FAA budget request for 2013 is $15.2 billion. Of course, we will have to work within whatever budget Congress eventually passes for our agency. And Congress did recently enact the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution bill to provide funding for the FAA and all government operations through March 27,” Huerta added. “Under the continuing resolution, the FAA receives about $77 million more compared to last year. Still, certain areas are between 3 and 6 percent lower than what we asked for in the 2013 budget, which means we will have to tweak our plans.
“The bottom line is, we are operating in an environment of tight budgets and it is also a time of uncertainty. The sequester is an issue on everyone’s mind,” Huerta observes. “If the sequester were to occur, we would face some very drastic cuts in services and these investments. These cuts would impact air traffic control services, NextGen implementation, and aircraft certification--all of which are critical to our ability to move forward with aviation in this century. They would result in significantly less efficient and less convenient air travel service for the American traveling public. We will always, however, maintain the highest levels of safety.
It’s important that Congress works together to avoid the sequestration, and we are hopeful that they will do so.
“Even as we face a challenging budget climate, the FAA is committed to modernizing the airspace system as well as maintaining the equipment that makes our system run today.
President Obama said it well when he said, ‘Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation…is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may make you feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you feel the impact.’ It’s a good perspective to keep in mind as we keep our eyes on the important goal of transforming our national airspace system,” Huerta explained. “The decisions we all make over the next several years are going to affect the air transportation system in this country for decades to come. That’s why it is critical that the FAA, other government agencies, and all the components of the aviation industry work together innovatively as we lay the foundation for the future.”