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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Government Shutdown Halts Aircraft Sales, Slows NextGen Research

Woodrow Bellamy III

The shutdown of the federal government entered its third day on Thursday, with aviation concerns throughout the United States arguing this shutdown is detrimental to the National Airspace System (NAS) and threatens to derail some critical infrastructure modernization initiatives.
 
Photo courtesy FAA
More than 800,000 federal employees remain furloughed, including more than 15,000 FAA employees. Until the government shutdown is over, there will be no sales or deliveries of commercial aircraft in the United States due to the furlough of employees at the Airmen and Aircraft Registry in Oklahoma City. 
 
"The furlough of employees at the Airmen and Aircraft Registry in Oklahoma City has resulted in a hold on all U.S. aircraft registrations. The FAA has explained to aircraft manufacturers inside and outside of the U.S. that aircraft registrations will resume when the government shutdown ends," FAA said in an emailed statement to Avionics Magazine. 
 
Outside of the aircraft sales stoppage, NextGen initiatives will also be slowed down or halted.  "Development operational testing, and evaluation of NextGen technologies" as well as "development of NextGen safety standards" have been suspended during the shutdown, the Department of Transportation (DoT) said in its report titled "operations during a lapse in annual appropriations." 
 
Air traffic controllers are considered exempt in a government shutdown, and are working although they're not getting paid. 
 
“I implore Congress to reach an agreement to end this shutdown, which is hurtful to our nation’s aviation system, our economy and the American people," said Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). 
 
According to NATCA, thousands of aviation improvement projects are being halted as a result of the shutdown, including the delay of the opening of a new runway at one of the nation's busiest airports, Chicago O'Hare.
 
There will also be a delay in "major mechanical upgrades scheduled for three air traffic control En Route Centers," and a delay in all projects affecting "surveillance radars that feed the 100 busiest airports in the nation," NATCA said in a statement. 
 
National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President Ed Bolen called the shutdown "destructive" for the aviation industry, and proposed a number of different initiatives, including reforming the aircraft certification process and prioritizing certain NextGen projects, such as the shift from a radar-based system to a satellite-based one. 
 

"The aviation industry is more regulated than most, so the government shutdown, and further moves to continue cutting federal spending, will have a more profound long-term impact on our industry than for others,” Bolen said. "This means that, while tough choices need to be made when it comes to funding aviation programs and services, they must be made wisely." 

Related: Government Shutdown: FAA Furloughs 3,000 Aviation Maintenance Inspectors

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