Industry Response to the Fiscal Cliff may Reduce its Impact; Use of Experts to Supplement Constrained Staff is one such Strategy

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ARTICLE: Business Aviation Works to Mitigate Sequester’s Impact

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Sequester happened, or more accurately is beginning to happen, in that the furlough notices will not be effective until 30 days from their delivery. It is also open to debate whether the FAA’s “management” is contributing to, rather than minimizing the pain. Robert Poole has suggested one way of maintaining safety and meeting the strictures of Sequestration.

There is little prospect for quick resolution for this political impasse. Even the most optimistic political commentators admit that this 5% reduction is likely to be permanent and the hope is that the Congress will grant the Administration discretion to apply the cuts on something other than an across-the-board fashion. The best bet is that government programs (maybe not entitlement programs) will be smaller forever.

It has also been suggested that FAA would be well advised to work with industry to try to reduce the impact rather than just announcing the dire, as-of-yet unrealized consequences. In that the operators of aircraft and certificate holders are most aware of when and where the rub between their needs and the demand for FAA’s services occur, it would seem wise to involve them in the exercise of balancing “user requests” and regulator’s actions!

Steve Brown, NBAA’s COO and a former FAA Associate Administrator, has been involved in that dialogue as he indicated at the FAA’s recent Forecast & Policy Summit. Chip Barclay chimed in at the same meeting stating that his most able association, AAAE, would like to help. Other segments are looking for ways in which they can interface more efficiently with the FAA.

One of the FAA’s jobs involves the certification of a new entity which seeks permission to operate as an air carrier for public air transportation. The statute and regulations impose very high standards on the potential new airline. The FAA must scrutinize the aviation professionals, must literally examine the proposed aircraft inch-by-inch as well as the accompanying documents line-by-line, and review – with intense care – the thousands of pages of operational, maintenance, training and other handbooks. Those exercises requires the time of experienced FAA field and national staffs.

The process is iterative. The applicant proposes language/ personnel/language; the FAA reviews and comments; the erstwhile carrier revises and resubmits; the government reassesses and responds until the exacting criteria are met. A well prepared proposal may move quickly, but it is commonplace for the submission/reply process to consume in excess of 18 months.

This task is very demanding in terms of personnel and the continuity of the FAA staff on the project is critical for completion in a reasonable period. The availability of the agency talent and their daily presence will both be stressed by Sequestration. That short-term or permanent diminution of services suggests that the private sector will have to adjust its expectations and/or practices.

Prior to the Fiscal Cliff, the FAA recognized that outside help might reduce the iterative process, that by identifying consultants with expertise as to the certification process may contribute to higher quality documents for the applicant. A class of external assistance is recognized in the Qualified Certification Consultants designation for new Part 121 air carrier applicants. JDA has received that recognition and may assist a company in obtaining its FAA authority.

Involving such expertise is one method that a prospective new carrier might want to employ in the overall industry efforts to deal with the impact of Sequestration.

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1 Comment on "Industry Response to the Fiscal Cliff may Reduce its Impact; Use of Experts to Supplement Constrained Staff is one such Strategy"

  1. A4A supports legislation that would allow FAA to manage its reduced funds with minimizing the safety impact-http://www.airlines.org/Pages/A4A-Supports-Blunt-Amendment-Providing-Agencies-with-Funding-Flexibility-So-Services-Essential-to-Air-Travel-Are-Maintained.aspx

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