Take Two for April 24, 2013

Blame game takes off amid sequestration cuts to FAA

American Airlines passengers wait in line for a flight at Miami International Airport on Tuesday.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

American Airlines passengers wait in line for a flight at Miami International Airport on Tuesday.

While all those passengers are waiting for their delayed flight, their hardworking politicians in Washington are playing the blame game. Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have been lobbing shots at one another over who is responsible for sequestration, but so far, no one has stepped forward to try to fix it.

Burgess Everett, who wrote about this for Politico, fills us in on the partisan bickering.

While lawmakers in DC are arguing about the merits of sequestration, the impact it's had on people on the ground and in the air have been very real. There have been flight delays across the country as up to 10 percent of the air traffic controllers are on furlough at any given time.

That also accounts for about 10 percent of the staffing being gone at LAX every day. Mike Foote is the president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association at Los Angeles tower. He joins the show to offer his point of view on the FAA cuts to air traffic controllers at SoCal's largest and busiest airport. 

Interview Highlights:

On how flights can become backed up to three hours:
"You've got to consider that all of the aircraft are already in the air, if you're flying from Australia or China, or Singapore, or someplace like that, you're already over the ocean flying to Los Angeles. What's going on is we have a fog bank that shows up called "marine layer" — around this time of the year it's very common. When it shows up we don't have the bodies to open up two position down in the radar room, then we have to cut our arrival more than in half. At that point you're stuck with all these aircraft up in the air and you have to deal with what's already in the air, and you ground stop everybody else until you can assimilate all the aircraft that are already flying into Los Angeles."

On what's its been like in the tower since the furlough set in:
"It's a helpless feeling. You're trained as an air traffic controller to move aircraft, 'minimum separation,' and 'go, go, go' all day long, and we have certain rules we to follow. Watching that marine layer rolling knowing that when it shows up we were going to drop our arrival rate down to 42, which is normally ninety on a nice day, then you're looking at that knowing what the impact is on the entire is just throw your hands up in the air type of stuff.

"It's just so unnecessary. You're just watching people you know are just trying to get home from wherever they've been or set themselves up for business whatever they're doing and they're stranded and there's nothing that can be done about it."


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