Government Shutdown Has Pilots, Flight Instructors In Holding Pattern

Friday, October 11th 2013, 10:21 pm
By: News On 6

While lawmakers continue to fight over raising the country's borrowing limit, the shutdown of several federal agencies is making it harder for people who take to the skies.

The aviation industry is seeing a hit because of furloughed employees and shutdown offices within the FAA.

Riverside Airport is bustling with air traffic. Planes come and go--touching down and taking off all day long.

But pilots say the government shutdown has them in a holding pattern

"It inhibits what we're able to do, how we're able to communicate to the public and get our students through their check rides, through their ratings," said master flight instructor David Koehn.

Koehn said he's prepared for the long-term effects of the federal government shutdown.

"It's frustrating, but we do the best we can to get through," Koehn said.

10/11/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Economist: Shutdown Won't Do Much Long-Term Damage If It Ends Soon

Written flight tests for students are on hold, final check rides for students are delayed. Applications, forms and tests go nowhere.

When you call the Oklahoma's FAA Field Office, you get a recorded message: "I regret to inform you that today our office is closed due to federal government emergency shutdown. We are on furlough."

"There's no one there," said flight mechanic Keith Thomas. "You just get the pre-recorded voice when you call."

Senator Jim Inhofe and four other senators say the shutdown poses a national security threat. They sent a letter asking the FAA to reopen it's Aircraft Registry office.

The letter says: "We expect you will maximize the use of any legal authorities you may have to mitigate the impacts of the shutdown on the aviation industry and other stakeholders. We look forward to your prompt response."

Koehn anticipates delays in programs even when the FAA resumes normal business.

"The demand doesn't stop. People are still flight training, there are still check rides that need to get done, there are still medicals that need to be processed. So, those are piling up," Koehn said.

Don't expect to see any disruption in air travel. The FAA is still keeping air traffic controllers and essential employees online.