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Pilots And Airlines Sue FAA

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The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) joined by two airline trade groups Friday filed a lawsuit against the FAA hoping to stop air traffic controller furloughs scheduled to begin Sunday. The FAA believes the furloughs will save $200 million of the $637 million that sequestration requires the agency to cut before November. ALPA, Airlines for America, and the Regional Airline Association believe the cuts will lead to delays that will ripple through the system. The FAA doesn't necessarily disagree.

Once implemented, controllers would lose one workday every other week. The FAA has said it expects maximum delays for some flights to be more than three hours. But it predicts that those delays would be suffered by a minority of flights operating at the nation's busiest airports at specific times of the day. The FAA has roughly 47,000 employees of which almost 15,000 are air traffic controllers. Under its plan, all employees will be subjected to furlough. The groups bringing the lawsuit believe those furloughs will effectively reduce the capacity of the national airspace system. It is not likely that a court will address the suit before next week. The FAA's annual budget is $16 billion and the groups contend that the agency could find less impactful ways to save the required $637 million.

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