Federal Bureaucracy Returning to Normal

From NAFI's Chair

Federal Bureaucracy Returning to Normal

It will be interesting to see how quickly things return to normal after the longest partial shutdown of the federal government shutdown in U.S. history. Throughout the shutdown there were many concerns expressed and solutions found for such issues as the expiration of temporary pilot and flight instructor certificates. Hopefully, most of that will be behind us soon, if not already.

Normal business with the FAA and other agencies was disrupted, of course. One example of such disruption was the postponement of the FAA UAS Symposium in late February, a major event. Those of us involved in that industry are still waiting the rescheduled date. Other, less dramatic examples are the inability to contact FSDOs, regional and national headquarters, etc. Fortunately, ATC was able to function for the most part, although there was a snarl on the East Coast most notably at New York's LaGuardia, when staffing levels at facilities fell below normal levels due to controllers calling in sick. Additionally, TSA facilities were strained, with some checkpoints closed at some airports, due to higher than normal sick calls. Fortunately, there were no incidents or air accidents related to the shutdown, as nearly as I can determine.

On January 10, 34 aviation groups sent a letter to both the president and congressional leaders expressing concern about the impact of the shutdown, both for the safety and business of aviation. I believe that this is a valid concern. Regardless of where you stand on the issues leading up to the shutdown, I think we can all agree that it was an inconvenience, at the least, to a major disruption at worst. Certainly, those thousands of federal workers furloughed and working without pay were profoundly affected and I'm sure feel relief now that their personal economies can get back to normal.

A government shutdown is something both parties have used. Perhaps it is a valid political tool. In full disclosure, I've argued both cases in my lifetime. Regardless, it is a drastic measure, one that should be avoided, not just for the effect on aviation, but the country as a whole. If you believe that to be the case, irrespective of the politics, I encourage you to reach out to your representatives and the president to ask them to find ways to avoid such impasses in the future.

Bob Meder,
NAFI Board Chair
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