An Air Travel Catastrophe in the Making U.S. Airports Face Closure Under Automatic Spending Cuts Tuesday, January 2, 2013
Air Force One splashes water on the runway at Northwest Regional Airport in Arkansas. This airport and many like it face possible closure if budget sequestration forces the Federal Aviation Administration to make severe budget cuts.
As many as 106 U.S. airports could lose air traffic control service and effectively be shut down under automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in March, after a two month delay of the sequester.
Late yesterday the White House and U.S. Senate reached a tentative deal that delays by two months the onset of nearly $1 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to take effect Jan. 2.
According to a Center for American Progress analysis, here's a list of airports that could be affected with interactive map showing how the entire country will be impacted.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) published a report outlining the impact that sequestration will have on the aviation industry and the U.S. economy.
The NATCA report states that all users of the National Airspace System (NAS), which includes travelers, pilots, airlines, businesses and the military will feel the impact of the cuts via a reduction in airport and air traffic control services, shrinking of the NAS's flight capacity, increased delays, higher costs to airlines and lags in air traffic modernization. Closing Towers Reducing the number of controllers and other staff will mean the FAA may be forced to cut services at some towers and possibly close some towers. Here are some of the busiest airports that could lose air traffic control service:
Savannah/Hilton Head International
Long Island MacArthur
Orlando Sanford International
Palm Springs International
Dane County Regional-Truax Field
Atlantic City International
Egg Harbor Township
Passengers* indicates the total number of passengers boarded at this airport every year.
An employee of security contractor Covenant Aviation Security screens a passenger at SFO. (Photo: Jim Wilson / The New York Times)
In an era of increasing surveillance and deteriorating privacy, our airports bear little resemblance to the community gathering spaces of our imaginations, where families and friends could see each other off and meet at the gate to hug one another.
On November 25th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) turned ten. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is under the massive scope of DHS, and although there have been some improvements (like strengthening cockpit doors), there have been a fair number of missteps.
The government announced a program called CAPS II in 2002 - and eventually all but scrapped it in 2007 - that would have used commercially available data about travelers to determine their risk status. The program lives on, in a limited fashion under the nameSecure Flight, which compares a passenger's name with government-compiled watch lists.
Though Americans' fear of terrorism is at a relative low point compared to times in the Bush-era, 38 percent of the population still thinks a "terrorist attack in the US could be imminent."
This perceived fear of terrorism has driven ever-increasingly authoritarian policies from the Patriot Act and warrantless spying on Americans to the kind of security theater we're now familiar with in our airports.
How great is the actual threat? That's impossible to say for sure, but in 2011, about the same number of Americans were killed by their appliances falling on them as were killed in terrorist attacks.
Of course there's a lot of money to be made by continuing to tell Americans they are under constant threat of terrorism. Military policy analyst Chris Hellman reported in 2011 that although we're often told the Pentagon's budget is around $700 billion, the actual national security budget is closer to $1.2 trillion per year.
As hundreds of thousands of passengers travel home for the holidays, they will have little choice but to consent to these ever-encroaching security measures. In an era of increasing surveillance and eroding privacy.
FCC Makes Changes To Improve Availability Of In-Flight Internet Access
A pilot uses the FlySmart with Airbus app on an Apple iPad. The F.A.A. has no proof that electronic devices can harm a plane's avionics, but it still perpetuates such claims.
With pilots approved to use iPads as flight manuals in their cockpits, and the FAA's own studies finding "no evidence saying [wireless] devices can't interfere with a plane, and... no evidence saying that they can," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has asked the FAA to ease up on restrictions against wireless device use on planes.
Mr. Genachowski said the F.A.A. should "enable greater use of tablets, e-readers, and other portable devices" during flights. The letter was first obtained by The Hill.
For more than a decade, the FCC has been approving individual applications from companies to provide in-flight Internet access. But this burdensome process will soon be cut in half thanks to new rules issued by the Commission.
Until now, each company that wished to supply ESAA (Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft) devices, which allow planes to provide a data connection to passengers, had to seek licensing approval from the Commission on an ad hoc basis.
The new rules establish a standard regulatory framework intended to speed up the approval process by 50% by allowing airlines to test systems that meet FCC standards, establish they do not interfere with aircraft systems, and get FAA approval.
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We are commited to solutions for promoting airline passenger policies that forward first and foremost the safety of all passengers while not imposing unrealistic economic burdens that adversely affect airline profitability or create exhorbitant ticket price increases.
All American air carriers shall abide by the following standards to ensure the safety, security and comfort of their passengers:
Establish procedures to respond to all passenger complaints within 24 hours and with appropriate resolution within 2 weeks.
Notify passengers within ten minutes of a delay of known diversions, delays and cancellations via airport overhead announcement, on aircraft announcement, and posting on airport television monitors.
Establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gate when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate.
Provide for the essential needs of passengers during air- or ground-based delays of longer than 3 hours, including food, water, sanitary facilities, and access to medical attention.
Provide for the needs of disabled, elderly and special needs passengers by establishing procedures for assisting with the moving and retrieving of baggage, and the moving of passengers from one area of airport to another at all times by airline personnel.
Publish and update monthly on the company’s public web site a list of chronically delayed flights, meaning those flight delayed thirty minutes or more, at least forty percent of the time, during a single month.
Compensate “bumped” passengers or passengers delayed due to flight cancellations or postponements of over 12 hours by refund of 150% of ticket price.
The formal implementation of a Passenger Review Committee, made up of non-airline executives and employees but rather passengers and consumers – that would have the formal ability to review and investigate complaints.
Make lowest fare information, schedules and itineraries, cancellation policies and frequent flyer program requirements available in an easily accessed location and updated in real-time.
Ensure that baggage is handled without delay or injury; if baggage is lost or misplaced, the airline shall notify customer of baggage status within 12 hours and provide compensation equal to current market value of baggage and its contents.
Require that these rights apply equally to all airline code-share partners including international partners.