After a recent Congressional adjournment, concerns grew that without reauthorizing the FAA’s operating authority essential services may not be available and aviation would grind to a halt.
Despite furloughs and other shutdowns, the FAA is committed to providing essential services like air traffic control and notam services. Unfortunately, nearly 4,000 employees of non-essential services, including research and development programs and Airport Improvement Programs, have been furloughed and the programs shuttered in the wake of Congress’ failure to pass a reauthorization.
As for essential functions, FAA officials have assured aviation groups that that ATC, notam and flight services, aeromedical branch, and the airman registry branch will to continue uninterrupted.
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt blasted Congress for their failure to pass a reauthorization bill stating that “These are real people with families who do not deserve to be put out of work during these tough economic times.”
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood added in a statement issued Friday, that he was “very disappointed that Congress adjourned today without passing a clean extension of the FAA bill. Because of their inaction, states and airports won’t be able to work on their construction projects, and too many people will have to go without a paycheck. This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world.”
According to Administrator Babbitt, Congress will have to decide whether to pay FAA employees who are laid-off for the time they spend on furlough. Furloughed employees include “engineers, scientists, research analysts, administrative assistants, computer specialists, program managers and analysts, environmental protection specialists, and community planners.”
Additionally, many other organization can expect to see effects from Congressional inaction. During the days preceding the shutdown, the FAA ceased processing Airport Improvement Program grants which are the life-blood for many airport projects. A number of state-level programs have also been effected by the shutdown which has terminated their access to millions in funds.