Ongoing Shutdown Ripples through Aviation Economy
Last week, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) and federal employees including air traffic controllers and other aviation workforce personnel sent a letter to President Trump calling for an immediate end to the shutdown and put Americans back to work. As the ongoing shutdown continues, its effect on the aerospace industry, its workers, and the millions of Americans it serves could have devastating effects on the national and local economies.
Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA), a member of the New Democrat coalition, joined the chorus opposing the shutdown and its effect on aerospace workers, highlighting the impacts on the U.S. aviation system overall.
“This shutdown is rippling throughout the aviation economy. Not only are folks like the air traffic controllers, those who support them and the technicians who make sure the equipment works right are out of work, but private sector jobs are at risk as well,” said Larsen.
“Washington state is home to 1,500 aerospace suppliers who support and supply original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and airplane manufacturers across the country. These private sector jobs are at risk if the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) isn’t open and making sure safety inspections are taking place, making sure that regulators can enter facilities and ensure that processes are being done the right way, and these products get made the right way.”
The letter from 34 associations highlights 11 major areas of concern affecting travel, including:
FAA Staffing: Federal employees working without pay are bearing an unsustainable and unfair burden, as many are experiencing a financial hardship. And the degradation of morale and impact on retention rates should not be underestimated. Most of the FAA staff who certify the safety of aircraft have been furloughed and safety reporting and oversight systems have been suspended. This is critical to resolving identified issues. The continued shutdown of these certification functions will also delay some companies in bringing their products to market and hurt deliveries and exports. We understand and appreciate that the FAA is committed to bringing all safety inspectors back to work, but it is not currently clear whether they will be able to perform key functions impacting operations. Additionally, all policy and rule-making for the fast-growing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) market have been halted as has processing of waivers for commercial drone operations.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP): Nearly all TSA and CBP personnel and are working without pay, which creates a severe financial hardship for many. Many are warning that several Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) are living paycheck to paycheck and will be forced to find other work, without any means to replace them. We expect workforce capacity issues will increase the longer the government is partially shut down and employees face working without the certainty of a paycheck. This could result in significant operational impacts at airports across the country.
Air Traffic Control (ATC): Training of air traffic controllers has been suspended, slowing the arrival of new workers in a system that is already at a 30-year low. As the shutdown persists, excepted air traffic controllers and workers in technical operations, who operate and maintain safety-critical navigational aids, surveillance, and communications equipment, are performing highly skilled and safety-critical services without pay. Moreover, the shutdown strains resources that are available for maintaining and servicing these critical ATC systems.
Training: The FAA is unable to approve training manual revisions, including for stall training, cannot authorize training center evaluators and will not be able to recertify flight simulators. Without these approvals, training centers are no longer be able to provide recurrent training to airline and general aviation pilots.
Manufacturing: During the shutdown, FAA inspectors who are responsible for approving new aircraft, aviation products, and infrastructure are furloughed, which hinders the ability of U.S. aerospace manufacturers to remain competitive globally. In addition, the FAA’s work on streamlining the certification process for aviation and aerospace products, as called for in the FAA reauthorization bill, has come to a halt. This standstill limits the ability of U.S. manufacturers to have newer and safer products to market faster.
The letter was signed by 34 associations:
Aerospace Industries Association
Aeronautical Repair Station Association
Air Line Pilots Association
Air Medical Operators Association
Air Traffic Control Association
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Airlines for America
Airport Consultants Council
Airports Council International-North America
American Association of Airport Executives
Association of Air Medical Services
Association of Flight Attendants – CWA
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems Int’l
Aviation Suppliers Association
Aviation Technician Education Council
Cargo Airline Association
Commercial Drone Alliance
Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Experimental Aircraft Association
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
Helicopter Association International
International Air Transport Association
International Brotherhood of Teamsters – Airline Division
Modification and Replacement Parts Association
National Air Carrier Association
National Air Traffic Controllers Association
National Air Transportation Association
National Association of State Aviation Officials
National Business Aviation Association
Professional Aviation Maintenance Association
Regional Airline Association
Security Manufacturers Coalition
U.S. Travel Association
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