More Details to the Shutdown’s Impacts on FAA

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FAA website says no impact to safety or oversight

TRUE

There are impacts on people, processes and NextGen

 

As a public service, below is an attempt to catalogue what is and what is not operating at the FAA. The FAA official website statement is circumspect, at best:

FAA: “Air traffic control is fully operational and there is no impact to safety or FAA oversight for travelers.”

Since 1980, the government has been shut down eight times (1980,1981,1984,1986, 1990,1995-1996,2013,2018-2019). While the system is safe, there are consequences and the below very unscientific survey attempts to capture some of the impacts—

  • essential employees work without pay,
  • delay in one crash investigation,
  • closure of the OKC ATC Academy
  • NextGen implementation delays
  • Inability to collect aviation taxes (?)
  • Development of new air traffic control specialists not certified to work a position;
  • Issuance of airmen certificates;
  • Approval of exemptions for unmanned aerial systems operations;
  • The FAA’s aircraft registry will close, delaying deliveries of new aircraft, and stopping the sale of used planes;
  • Aviation rulemaking;
  • Facility security inspections, evaluations, audits and inspections;
  • Routine personnel security background investigations;
  • Development, operational testing, and evaluation of NextGen technologies;
  • Development of NextGen safety standards;
  • Air traffic performance analysis;
  • Capital planning for FAA facilities and equipment;
  • Investment planning and financial analysis;
  • Dispute resolution;
  • Audit and evaluation;
  • Financial operations, controls, reporting and accountability;
  • Most budgeting functions (except those necessary to provide necessary services to offices funded with multi-year appropriations and contract authority);
  • Employee drug testing program;
  • Law enforcement assistance support;
  • Most administrative support functions not required for support of life and safety “excepted” positions; and
  • Congressional liaison services

This may or may not be a comprehensive list, but even if it is partial, it is disturbing. AFGE has brought a lawsuit against the federal government. Since the litigation papers are not yet available, it is hard to assess the likely success of the claim.

Hopefully, the politicians will stop holding these civil servants hostage for their agendas, however valid their issues may or may not be.


Nation’s aviation system won’t shut down if the federal government does

 

 

The air traffic controllers who supervise flights and federal airline safety inspectors are exempt from furloughs, though an estimated 17,000 Federal Aviation Administration employees deemed nonessential could be laid off.

FAA investigators have to prioritize more during the partial federal shutdown


 

Continued government shutdown stalls FAA investigation into deadly plane crash

Saginaw deputies guard plane crash site for days awaiting FAA investigators

As is standard protocol when a plane crash occurs, Saginaw County Sheriff’s deputies contacted the Federal Aviation Administration. Federal investigators did not respond to the scene, however, prompting deputies to guard the site ever since.

“We have had to utilize the FAA in the past and they’ve always been very timely,” said Sheriff Bill Federspiel. “We’ve been sitting on it and we’ll continue to sit on it until they come. Basically, we’ve had round-the-clock coverage of it. We told them we’d help any way we can. It’s the right thing to do. We’re not complaining about it.”

 

 

Plane crash wreckage removed days later in Saginaw County

January 2, 2019

3 pm


Government Shutdown Furloughs Nearly 18,000 FAA Workers

Nearly 18,000 FAA workers involved in activities such as airmen certificate issuance and NextGen development are furloughed as a result of the partial federal government shutdown took effect on December 22. This marks the third time this year the government has shut down as Congress and the White House reached stalemates over various issues, this time border-wall funding.

While Congress was able to pass year-long funding bills for agencies such as the Department of Defense, it could not push through bills for numerous federal agencies, including the Departments of Transportation, Homeland Security, and Commerce.

For the FAA, this affects 17,791 positions that are not involved in the excepted “life and safety” positions. In addition to airmen certificate issuance and NextGen development, activities suspended include unmanned systems exemption, aviation rulemaking, facility security inspections, routine background checks, air traffic control specialist development, certain drug testing, dispute resolution, and air traffic performance analysis, among many others.

Thanks to the most recent FAA reauthorization bill, the aircraft registry remains open. ATC, maintenance of ATC equipment, field inspections, and “limited” aircraft certification activities also continue.


Government Shutdown Closes FAA ATC Training Academy

The partial shutdown of the U.S. government has caused FAA to close its air traffic controller academy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, delaying controller training during a staffing shortage. The shutdown that began Dec. 22, 2018 over security wall funding sought by President Donald Trump on the U.S.-Mexico border also has suspended classroom and simulator training at air traffic control (ATC) facilities, according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). …


FAA faces partial shutdown as authorization approaches expiration

Your flights would still operate, but many FAA employees would be furloughed

If Congress fails to pass any kind of reauthorization by Sept. 30, thousands of nonessential FAA employees will face a temporary leave of absence and airport construction workers.

While the construction workers are furloughed, government-contracted projects at airports and FAA facilities intended to increase traffic capabilities will be delayed.

The government will also be unable to collect on airfare taxes, potentially surrendering hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in a matter of weeks. [1]

Airlines will continue to fly safely and passengers are unlikely to see any tangible difference in their flying experience if Congress doesn’t pass a reauthorization before October.

Many FAA employees, like air traffic controllers and safety inspectors, would continue to work through the partial shutdown.

Nevertheless, representatives and those in the industry alike are calling the reauthorization a “must-pass” piece of legislation. In addition to furloughing thousands of Americans, it would significantly hinder the FAA’s modernization program called NextGen, a project the agency has already spent $7 billion on.

The last time the FAA operated without congressional reauthorization, The Washington Post reported the agency was losing an estimated $30 million a day.


FAA workers at LAX say government shutdown already taking its toll

Vallente is one of 420,000 federal employees deemed essential and working unpaid during the partial closure.

“I’m deemed essential because I’m trying to protect the safety of the public and protect federal property,” he said. “It is stressing me out because I’m constantly thinking about when I will get paid. It degrades my performance on doing my duties.”

He works for the FAA and spoke to Eyewitness News on behalf of his union PASS, which represents aviation inspectors, system specialists and aeronautical professionals.

Vallente said he’s unhappy with how the shutdown is taking its toll on union aviation workers.

“This is very dangerous because they can’t perform their duties and we rely on them for support, for parts, new test equipment, new procedures in case those come down and new modifications,” he said.

Union workers like him are responsible for installing, maintaining, certifying and inspecting the nation’s aviation system.

“We monitor the radars, the radios, the navigational systems for LAX,” he said.

Outside of the thousands of employees who are forced to work without pay, an additional 380,000 have been furloughed and aren’t working at all. Some of those sitting at home are Vallente’s fellow union aviation workers, who he believes are critical to helping him keep people as safe as possible in the air.

“Right now, we’re OK. But if this prolongs any longer, we will suffer. Maintenance will degrade, systems will degrade. There will be delays. A lot of the flying public will be mad,” he said.

Vallente is also a veteran and he said many of his fellow aviation workers are also veterans. He said they are all suffering and scared about when they’ll get paid, which is also creating anxiety.


Manchin shares how government shutdown is impacting West Virginia

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Dept. of Transportation: The FAA employs around 120 people throughout the state. Of these, around 20 percent have been furloughed, while some others are paid through funds not impacted by annual appropriations. Air Traffic Controllers, who keep our skies and airports safe from accidents and disasters, will work without pay.

 


What the government shutdown means for GA

Here is a list of suspended activities taken directly from “Operations During a Lapse in Annual Appropriations Plans by Operating Administration,” issued by the Department of Transportation Office of the Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs, and CFO:

  • Development of new air traffic control specialists not certified to work a position;
  • Issuance of airmen certificates;
  • Approval of exemptions for unmanned aerial systems operations;
  • The FAA’s aircraft registry will close, delaying deliveries of new aircraft, and stopping the sale of used planes;
  • Aviation rulemaking;
  • Facility security inspections, evaluations, audits and inspections;
  • Routine personnel security background investigations;
  • Development, operational testing, and evaluation of NextGen technologies;
  • Development of NextGen safety standards;
  • Air traffic performance analysis;
  • Capital planning for FAA facilities and equipment;
  • Investment planning and financial analysis;
  • Dispute resolution;
  • Audit and evaluation;
  • Financial operations, controls, reporting and accountability;
  • Most budgeting functions (except those necessary to provide necessary services to offices funded with multi-year appropriations and contract authority);
  • Employee drug testing program;
  • Law enforcement assistance support;
  • Most administrative support functions not required for support of life and safety “excepted” positions; and
  • Congressional liaison services.

 

Joe Kildea


 

Why airlines keep flying during government shutdown

Essential workers who report to their jobs typically are paid retroactively, whenever Congress resolves its spending dispute.

The 25,127 workers in FAA’s air-traffic organization are exempted from furloughs during a temporary lapse in funding, according to a Transportation Department plan


Government Shutdown Effects on FAA Pilot Testing (etc.)

FAA knowledge test providers typically are not able to continue providing “written” tests due to the fact that their systems must interrogate data to and from FAA systems that are not running during a shutdown. We have had a couple reports today that these have been unavailable that support this statement again.

This means that anyone that has not already completed their FAA knowledge tests before this time will not be able to do so until the government staff has returned. This effectively stops applicants who are pursuing training to have the ability to become eligible for practical tests that require any FAA knowledge tests.


Federal workers union sues government over shutdown

Officials with the American Federation of Government Employees filed the lawsuit saying it’s unfair for federal employees to work without pay. The organization said the shutdown especially affects airport security workers, Border Patrol agents and immigration enforcement officials.

“Our members put their lives on the line to keep our country safe,” AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement. “Requiring them to work without pay is nothing short of inhumane.”

The defendant listed is “The United States Government.” ABC News said the White House was not did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 


[1] Not sure that this statement is true.



 

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6 Comments on "More Details to the Shutdown’s Impacts on FAA"

  1. Frank Paskiewicz | January 3, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Reply

    The FAA and aviation industry rely heavily on the FAA’s over 10,000 designees and delegations which managed by the Aviation Safety (AVS) organization. At some point the FAA may, and likely will, determine it no longer has the ability to oversee and manage these designees and delegations and that they are no longer authorized to perform their delegated functions. This would be a huge negative impact to the industry and would halt the many critical activities they perform.

  2. All FAA 145 Repair Station safety Inspections in Asia have been stopped and all Inspectors furloughed. No sure how that’s safe?

  3. The fact that any ASI has been declared non essential and furloughed is wrong. It is not the fault of the President or Congress or the shutdown. FAAs is at fault for making a bad decision. Tony would not have done it, a senate confirmed courageous Administrator would not have approved it. Surprised that a DOT Secretary who should know better went along with i

  4. The reports are all over the place on the answer to this question.

    The closest to an authoritative response:

    “A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said Monday that inspectors are being called back to work on a case-by-case basis, with a priority put on inspecting airline fleets.” WaPo

    One possible answer is that the system is designed to be safe without any ASIs on duty. If 100% ASI coverage of each airline is a predicate to a SAFE system, then there would be 10x as many ASI on the employment roles.

    SMS/SAIS/FOQA/etc. are based on a “zone” defense as opposed to “man-to-man”.

  5. Patrick Nealon | January 15, 2019 at 8:59 am | Reply

    In response to Frank Paskiewicz comment on 03 January 2019, DAR’s and DMIR’s are already affected. Managing Specialists typically issue pre-approvals monthly or quarterly. As such, most activity pre-approvals expired on 31 December 2018. Without pre-approval requests in place for January 2019 or Q1 2019 in the DMS and approved by the Managing Specialist a designee is not authorized to perform any activity on behalf of the FAA. I requested my pre-approval on 02 January 2019 and to date my request is listed as Pending, not approved and that is because my managing specialist is furloughed and not available to approve my activities.

  6. President Trump is trying to get our border secured. He’s significantly dropped the amount he needs to do this, he’s made many other concessions to Congress but they vow to never fund a wall or barrier.They talk about all the furloughed employees but do nothing to end this shutdown.Hypocrites to the American people. The house should have to forfeit their pay as long as the shutdown continues.

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