Automatic 'sequester' spending cuts will force the FAA to shutter 149 airport towers. So far, the American public hasn't made up its mind about whether spending cuts are good.
Flying will become a bit more seat-of-the pants for pilots who use some 149 US airports that are scheduled to have their air-traffic towers closed next month, thanks to automatic spending cuts imposed by Congress.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sparked a debate about flying safety when it announced Friday that contracted flight controllers at 149 airstrips would not report to work starting in April as the agency adjusts to mandated across-the-board spending cuts demanded by Congress in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The "sequester" went into effect March 1 when Congress and the White House failed to come to an agreement about deficit spending.
The $85 billion in sequester cuts forces agencies to curtail their spending by up to 8 percent, which many critics say amounts to a vexing scenario that will mean longer airport lines, fewer White House tours, and cuts in military benefits. The US Department of Transportation specifically has to absorb $1 billion in cuts, with $637 million coming out of the FAA's budget.
That's enough to cause uproar among Americans, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told Congress last month.