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Aviation workers deal with politics-induced furloughs

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — Some 4,000 furloughed aviation workers are the latest casualty of political infighting in Washington.

Families used to making $75,000 a year are filing for unemployment benefits and worrying how to make mortgage, car and student loan payments, furloughed workers say.

“It really is scary,” said Michael MacDonald, a 54-year-old Federal Aviation Administration engineer who lives outside of Boston. “For one week, you think OK, we can handle one week. But now the reality is starting to set in — this is going to take six weeks or more.”

The FAA has been partially shut down for more than a week, with only air traffic controllers, mechanics and those integral to keeping planes flying safely on the job.

The plight of 4,000 FAA workers has been overshadowed by greater commotion over raising the debt limit and spending cuts. But lawmakers have also been at odds over approving a routine stop-gap funding measure for the agency.

With the House adjourned, the funding impasse will likely grind on for FAA employees who are feeling the pinch of a lack of paycheck, not to mention perks such as like 401(k) retirement benefit contributions.

MacDonald works on updating communications systems for the FAA. He’s worried about paying his mortgage, car loans and college tuition for his two kids. He filed for unemployment benefits last week and has been urging his colleagues to do the same.

“I’ve never been in this situation before,” said MacDonald, a 20-year veteran of the FAA.

While many employees, especially single parents, are terrified of spiraling into debt, other FAA workers say they’re just furious that they’ve become the victims of partisan wrangling in Washington.

“For this to be about something so petty, it’s ridiculous. And terribly arrogant and totally uncaring,” said Steve Alexander, 59, who lives near Sanford, N.C.

Alexander’s last day on the job was July 22, when he finished upgrading the landing system at Memphis International Airport.

While Alexander saved up over a year to withstand this furlough, as a union representative, he has been talking to panicked colleagues who can’t afford to be out of work for weeks on end.

The partial shutdown impacts more than just federal workers. The FAA had to stop hundreds of airport construction projects nationwide, which means some 24,000 construction workers are also out of work. Another 35,000 support workers, such as food service vendors, are also impacted, said Steve Sandherr CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America.

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“This can’t go on a day longer, much less six weeks longer,” Randy Babbitt, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, told CNN on Tuesday

— CNN’s Mike M. Ahlers contributed to this report. To top of page

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August 4, 2011 Posted by | aviation, aviation engineering government, engineering services, federal aviation, Federal Aviation Administration, professional services | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Press Release – Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Urges Swift Action by Congress on FAA Bill

ClancyJG International is an Engineering, Professional, and Consulting Services company that provides expertise in Engineering and Analysis, Air Traffic Control, Airspace Management, Airfield and Air Traffic Operations, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Obstruction Evaluation/Airport Airspace Analysis (OE/AAA), Aviation Security, Airport/Air Carrier Security, Flight Test Range Operations and Maintenance, and Management and Technical Consulting with unique talent experienced in supporting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Defense (DoD), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Commercial Prime Contractors.  Available to assist in solving today’s complex management and technical challenges.

For Immediate Release

July 20, 2011
Contact: FAA Press Office
Phone: 202-267-3883


WASHINGTON – Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt called on Congress today to pass a clean extension of the FAA’s authorization in order to avoid airport project construction delays and employee furloughs. The current FAA reauthorization expires at midnight this Friday, July 22, 2011. LaHood and Babbitt said they oppose the House bill because it includes controversial provisions that needlessly threaten critical FAA programs and jeopardize thousands of public and private sector jobs.

“Congress needs to stop playing games, work out its differences, and pass a clean FAA bill immediately. There is no excuse for not getting this done,” said Secretary LaHood.  “Important programs and construction projects are at stake.  This stalemate must be resolved.”

Secretary LaHood also said, “I want to reassure the flying public that, during this period, safety will not be compromised.”

“We are going to be forced to furlough valuable FAA employees unless this situation is resolved quickly,” said FAA Administrator Babbitt.  “These employees do everything from getting money out the door for airport construction projects, to airport safety planning and NextGen research.  We need them at work.”

If Congress does not extend the FAA’s authorities approximately 4,000 employees will be furloughed beginning Saturday July 23, 2011.  Without the appropriate authority, taxes will not be deposited into the Trust Fund to pay some FAA employees.  Employees who are paid out of the Trust Fund handle a variety of functions including: airport safety and engineering standards; airport safety planning; the Airport Improvement Program, which administers construction project grants to airports; and Research, Engineering, and Development, which includes NextGen research and testing.

Congress has extended the FAA’s authorization 20 separate times.

Without a full year extension, FAA will be unable to move forward on more than $600 million in airport construction projects that include good paying jobs for local communities across the country. Some of these projects include:

  • GulfportBiloxi International Airport: proceed with construction of a terminal building expansion, rehabilitation runway lighting, rehabilitation of a taxiway, and rehabilitation of an access road.
  • RichmondInternational Airport: proceed with construction of a new apron for terminal concourse A.
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport: proceed with construction of taxiway Y and Z rehabilitation.
  • LaredoInternational Airport: proceed with the rehabilitation of the Engineered Material Arresting System which will help protect passengers if an aircraft leaves the runway.

Additionally, during each of the previous 20 short term extensions, the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program has only received small portions of its $3.5 billion in grant money.

As a result, states and airports have been left waiting to plan projects or begin construction since the total amount available is unknown. Some projects that are already underway are being constructed in stages and the total cost of the project will likely be higher as a result of that approach.

For example, in Wisconsin, the state has delayed accepting construction bids until officials know how much federal funding is available. Unless the FAA receives a longer extension, projects in Wisconsin could be delayed into next year since the construction season will start to wind down at the end of the summer.

July 23, 2011 Posted by | ClancyJG International, Commercial Prime Contractors, Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration | , , , | Leave a comment

Senate passes $34.5 billion FAA bill

Senate passes $34.5 billion FAA bill

 

The Senate on Monday passed a $34.5 billion measure, by a vote of 93-0, that would upgrade the nation’s aging air traffic control system, limit tarmac delays for passengers and increase taxes on several areas within the airline industry.

The bill, which funds the Federal Aviation Administration through September 2011, calls for the air traffic control system to switch from World War II-era radar technology to a satellite-based system by 2014 at the busiest airports, and nationwide by 2020. The new system known as NextGen would cost the FAA about $22 billion through 2025 while airlines would spend about $20 billion to upgrade their airplanes’ computer systems.

With the numbers of airline passengers growing, the new air traffic system is expected in the long term to increase safety, save airlines money, reduce delays and cut down on pollution because pilots will be able to fly more direct routes.

The bill, which will have to be ironed out in a House-Senate conference, raises an additional $276 million in revenue from the expansion of several taxes.

The measure sets the general aviation jet fuel tax rate at 36 cents a gallon, up from 22 cents. That is expected to raise about $113 million through 2014. Private business jet charters would see taxes increase from 4.4 cents a gallon to 36 cents, and they would pay as an a 14-cent surtax on fuel, which is expected to raise $107 million through 2014.

In addition, planes weighing 6,000 pounds, which were previously exempt from the taxes, would have to pay into the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, raising about $56 million over 10 years. Under the Senate bill only sightseeing planes are exempt.

During Monday’s debate Senate Commerce ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said “we still have a long way to go on this legislation, I hope we can do it.”

 

 

 

February 22, 2011 Posted by | aviation engineering, Department of Defense (DOD), engineering services, Federal Aviation Administration, SDB, Small Business Administration 8(a) | , , , , , | Leave a comment