While a skeleton crew of aviation safety employees means most of the division’s work halts, the furloughs have not stopped everything. Participants in the FAA’s delegation programs, which rely on FAA-approved teams made up of private-sector employees, continue to work on their certification and flight standards-related projects, notes Aeronautical Repair Station Association Executive Director Sarah MacLeod.
“There should be a bang-up business going on for persons with delegated authority—designated airworthiness representatives, designated engineering representatives and the like,” MacLeod says. “While the process for obtaining a delegation is slow and painful, when granted within the proper parameters the ability to issue approvals and authorizations without the direct involvement of an FAA employee is essential to the continued operation of a business.”
So far, U.S. airlines have voiced little public concern over the shutdown. An Airlines For America (A4A) spokesman says the association “is still evaluating impacts,” but has been advised by the FAA, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, and Customs and Border Protection “that front-line employees would not be subject to shutdown-related furloughs that would affect the traveling and shipping public.”
A4A is aware of shutdown-related challenges like aircraft delivery delays, but is “confident safety will not compromised.”
The NBAA and other general aviation advocates are at a different place on the spectrum.
Halting aircraft registry service alone “is effectively grounding the general aviation industry, severely jeopardizing countless jobs, and America’s economy and infrastructure,” NBAA President Ed Bolen told President Obama and congressional leaders in an Oct. 7 letter.
“We are pleased that the FAA is recalling 800 furloughed Aviation Inspectors and we are hopeful that these numbers will increase in the coming days,” the National Air Transport Association (NATA) tells members, adding, “We know that the lack of registration activity is harming many of our members’ businesses.”
NATA planned to join other industry groups in a direct appeal to DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx to re-open the FAA’s registry office.