Congressional Impasse Forces FAA Shutdown

 - July 26, 2011, 10:40 AM

The failure of Congress to agree on an extension of the FAA’s operating authorization by Saturday forced the agency to furlough nearly 4,000 employees and issue stop-work orders on projects ranging from the construction of new towers to the rehabilitation and modernization of air traffic facilities. Air traffic controllers and other FAA employees essential to air safety remain on the job. According to the Aerospace Industries Association, the congressional impasse will cost the government more than $200 million a week in lost revenue, since the FAA is no longer authorized to collect ticket and fuel tax revenues. The FAA was forced to suspend awarding contracts for new towers in Cleveland and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., because the agency cannot access the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. In addition to halting construction on seven new towers, the FAA issued stop-work orders for $370 million in contracts with Jacobs Engineering of Pasadena, Calif., for architectural, design, engineering and planning services for existing and future air traffic facilities. Other airport projects also are affected because the FAA is a primary funding source through the Airport Improvement Program, which is also unable to operate without legislature authorization. Congressional action on passing what would be the 21st temporary extension to reauthorize the FAA appears to be in limbo, meaning there is no end in sight to the agency shutdown.