160 air traffic control centers in danger of closure, cutbacks o - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Ala. sites among 160 air traffic control centers in danger of closure, cutbacks over sequestration

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The Federal Aviation Administration is releasing a large list of air traffic control centers around the country that it says will either be closed or will have limited hours if automatic federal spending cuts, or sequestration, take affect next week.

The FAA is preparing to close as many as 100 air traffic control sites and throttle back shifts at an additional 60 sites around the United States. The cuts would start in April.

Several air traffic control centers located in Alabama are among those in danger. The FAA says it would have to close centers in Mobile, Dothan and Tuscaloosa. It would have to limit the hours, by cutting overnight shifts, in Birmingham.

[DOCUMENT: List of Closures (.pdf)]

[DOCUMENT: List of Limited Hours (.pdf)] 

The U.S. Department of Transportation says if sequestration occurs, it will have to cut $1 billion from its budget. Over $600 million of that money would have to come from the FAA. The FAA's primary responsibility is to manage the nation's air traffic.

Cost savings would also some through furlough of the FAA's 47,000 employees, each receiving approximately one unpaid day per pay period through the end of the year, and in some cases up to two per pay period.

Here is what these automatic cuts are going to mean for the traveling public (per the FAA):

  • Safety is top priority. The FAA will only allow the amount of air traffic it can handle safely to take off and land – which means travelers should expect delays.
  • Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours because we will have fewer controllers on staff.
  • Delays in those major airports will ripple across the country.
  • Cuts to budgets mean preventative maintenance and quick repair of runway equipment might not be possible which could lead to more delays.

The FAA says once affects of sequestration are seen, airlines will most likely begin rescheduling or cancelling some flights.

So how did we get to sequestration? Let's start HERE.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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