House Transportation Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) set the table for the next round of FAA reauthorization and federal aviation programs when he told the International Aviation Club of Washington, D.C., last month that “we have to begin laying the groundwork now.” The current FAA reauthorization became law in 2012 and expires in September 2015.
Because of a recent fleet reduction at CitationAir, the company recently sent furlough notices to 19 pilots. The furloughs will be effective December 6 and will leave approximately 100 pilots at the company, which is winding down its fractional aircraft business as it continues to exit that market.
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.
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.
During day two of the U.S. government shutdown, 15,000 FAA employees were still off the job on furlough and the business aviation community appears to have found the early impact of the closure to be greater than anticipated with disruption to several important FAA functions that were not impacted by previous Federal government shutdowns.
Members of Congress drifted back to Capitol Hill last month after spending most of August and the first week in September on their annual summer vacations. Talk immediately turned to the situation in Syria and the specter of another round of sequestration.
One of the major orders of business they faced–with the September 30 end of the 2013 fiscal year looming–was how to fund the government for FY2014. One of the first tasks was approval of a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government operating beyond October 1.
Clearwater, Fla.-based Piaggio Avanti fractional provider Avantair shut down yesterday and furloughed employees as it “seeks alternative financing arrangements that it hopes will enable it to resume operations as quickly and efficiently as possible,” according to an 8-K SEC filing. Employees were also notified that “the company will not be in a position to fund payroll on June 28,” meaning they will not be paid for time worked since June 8.
In the space of less than 24 hours in late April, Congress passed a bill that staved off air traffic controller furloughs and produced “found” money to keep low-activity contract control towers operating. With lawmakers eying another vacation that would officially begin on April 27 and end on May 5, the Senate passed a measure on the night of April 25 that would prevent furloughs of essential FAA employees, including air traffic controllers.
When President Obama signed bipartisan legislation Tuesday that suspended furloughs for air traffic controllers, he also threw a lifeline to 149 contract towers that were slated to be closed.
The U.S. Congress moved to relieve the Federal Aviation Administration of its need to furlough air traffic controllers last week after five days of prolonged flight delays at major airports blamed on controller staffing reductions.
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