NBAA welcomed a bipartisan U.S. budget agreement approved yesterday by Congress that averts another near-term government shutdown. The Senate yesterday passed the budget measure, which sets funding for all federal agencies. The House approved the same budget package last week. “Avoiding another government shutdown is a key concern for NBAA and the business aviation community,” the association said. “Because business aviation is more regulated than other industries, the most recent shutdown [in October] had a far more dire impact on business aviation than on other industries.”
The White House released a report on the impact and cost of the October 2013 federal government shutdown, estimating costs anywhere from $2- to $6 billion in lost output for the overall economy.
Among the hardest hit by the 16-day furlough of non-exempt government employees was general aviation. The move closed the FAA Registry office and delayed other certification activities, imposing widespread hardship on general aviation manufacturers. The Registry must approve each certificate of registration that is required for the sale, export and import of an aircraft.
While the U.S. Congress passed legislation on October 16 that put an end to the 16-day government shutdown, getting agencies such as the FAA fully back up to speed will likely take weeks–adding to the adverse impact widely felt within the general aviation community and beyond.
“While the agreement reached does reopen the government, it may be some time before services at the FAA and other agencies are fully restored to pre-shutdown effectiveness,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen.
At Capitol Hill on Thursday, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) was joined by NBAA, ALPA, GAMA, NATA, HAI and Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (Pass) in a rally against the government shutdown. Heavy rain, as well as Capitol security, dampened attendance to about 150 people, who were supplied by Natca with matching signage and shirts.
The U.S. government shutdown could have “grave repercussions on the [ATC] system,” Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca), told an October 10 rally. “The furlough of thousands of aviation safety professionals is eliminating critical layers of redundancy and safety that keep the system operating safely and efficiently. The shutdown has also interrupted the flow of hiring, training and innovation,” he said.
Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) sent a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta asking him to deem the FAA’s aircraft registry an essential service. The closure of this office during the government shutdown has all but halted aircraft sales transactions.
The long-running dispute over President Obama’s signature health-care initiative led to the first federal government closure of “non-essential” services in 17 years at 12:01 a.m. EDT today. For the FAA, however, it is business almost as usual. Of a total of 46,070 FAA positions, 30,556 are considered exempted and those employees reported for work as usual.