FAA senior staff are expected to outline details early this week of the implementation of $600 million in budget cuts mandated by the sequestration measures signed into law by President Obama over the weekend. Last week, a letter to FAA employees from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta outlined the broad strokes of the plan, which will include furloughing most employees for at least a couple of days a month and closing or curtailing operations at 160 towers. An FAA spokesman told AVweb over the weekend that the nitty gritty of implementing the plan, including the timing of the measures, will be communicated to staff this week. It's expected that most of the measures won't be implemented for about a month because of notice requirements for employees. A glimpse of what might be coming was the subject of a Feb. 26 meeting between high-ranking FAA officials and members of the full range of affected aviation organizations. One of the attendees issued a widely circulated memo that might illustrate the mood at 800 Independence Ave.
Henry Ogrodzinski, president of the National Association of State Aviation Officials, said FAA officials, including Huerta, his ATO chief David Grizzle and a few others, were joined by Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari in what Ogrodzinski termed a "serious, maybe even somber" session in the FAA's round room. The furloughs and tower closures were explained and it was also pointed out that as navaids and radars inevitably fail, not all of them will be fixed. Only those on a so-called "minimum operations network" will be restored. Ogrodzinski also said the officials stressed the 10-year term on the cuts and quoted Porcari as describing sequestration as "a glide path down to the new normal."