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FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said at a hearing that while he is grateful for the law Congress passed to end air traffic controller furloughs and stave off contract tower defunding, it "does not end the sequester. We will not enjoy the benefits or the stability that the FAA reauthorization provides until we find a sensible long-term solution." Rick Larsen, the top Democrat on T&I's Aviation panel, also said if a long-term, comprehensive solution to the sequester is not dealt with, "none of our colleagues should act surprised" when the effects are back in October.

Huerta told lawmakers that some airport projects likely will be delayed or not funded because of the $253 million in discretionary Airport Improvement Program grants used instead to stave off defunding contract towers and furloughing air traffic controllers. Huerta said it is "reasonable to expect that you would see some project delays, or you might see some requests that would come in for AIP funding ... that we would not be able to meet."

HAI participates in a monthly telephone conference call with FAA officials charged with responsibility for general aviation. According to the most recent information provided to HAI, FAA travel restrictions have eased slightly, but are still in effect. The FAA remains unable to undertake any new hiring, and the agency is down four inspectors, requiring other agency personnel to handle the workload.

FAA officials informed HAI this week that a helicopter working group has been assigned to AFS-200 that will encourage industry/FAA collaboration to address helicopter-specific issues relating to field operations. Additionally, a weight and balance advisory circular is being developed that will enable operators to use standard passenger weights. The FAA is also working to facilitate authorization of a second pilot during the test flights of experimental aircraft.

Posted in: Government News
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