A storm hits North Carolina. Major equipment at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport control tower goes offline. Not a good scenario during government shutdown.
Air travelers would face lengthy delays if a radar unit or other equipment broke at a major U.S. airport because no one is on duty to fix it, Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told Reuters in an interview.
An emergency landing goes poorly. The passengers are safe, but the airplane is damaged. Even if the repairs are minor, federal papers must be signed before the plane can fly again.
Plane after plane is grounded. Registrations are expiring and pilots need new papers. But nothing is moving forward because the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Registry in Oklahoma City is closed.
Officials at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) believe the closure of the aircraft registry office slowly is impacting the 1.2 million jobs associated with general aviation.
A flash poll by the Global Business Travel Association this week showed the federal government shutdown has impacted business travel. The impact is cropping up in the form of cancelled hotel reservations, cancelled meetings, business people sharing uncertainty towards the future of the economy, and a reduce in business activity due to delayed government contracts.
Small aviation businesses will be hit the hardest, said Ed Bolen, CEO of the NBAA.
“Any company that does any time of repair work is going to get caught up in this (lag in paperwork),” Bolen said. “So are brokers involved in transactions, insurance companies, and aviation lawyers. The point is, the industry is so heavily federally regulated, when the federal government closes and (small businesses) can’t get approval, the industry to a large extend closes down.”
And while the FAA swears safety will not compromised, they are running the aviation system without a full team. The FAA has 46,000 employees across the agency, with 15,500 workers furloughed.
That’s a lot of non-essential employees.