Ongoing Shutdown Ripples through Aviation Economy

January 15, 2019 by TWN Staff
Kellie Horrocks, a TSA employee, talks with BECU’s Hilary Taylor at a resource fair organized by the Port of Seattle at SeaTac Airport on Friday. Perry Cooper, with the Port of Seattle, says about 2,000 employees at SeaTac Airport are being affected by the partial government shutdown. Another resource fair will be held at the airport’s central auditorium from noon to 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14.(Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times/TNS)

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

Travelers United

U.S. Travel Association

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