FAA Shutdown Negatively Impacts General Aviation Manufacturing

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) urged the President and Congress to act in a bipartisan manner to end the partial U.S. government shutdown and its harmful and growing effects on the aviation industry.

The strength of general aviation’s economic contribution is dependent on the Federal Aviation Administration undertaking certification, maintenance, training, and other regulatory actions and approvals in order to bring aircraft, engines, avionics, and other new technologies and products to the U.S. and global marketplace. During the early days of the shutdown, GAMA member companies were able to mitigate the impacts on new aircraft development and certification programs. As the government shutdown continues, these impacts are more pronounced and threaten the ability for businesses to deliver and export newly manufactured aircraft and support maintenance of aircraft.

Some specific problems GAMA members have encountered due to the shutdown are:

Aircraft Certification and Validation: GAMA’s member companies cannot deliver and export certain products and are forced to stop development of new products and technologies because key FAA personnel are unable to issue aircraft certification and validation approvals. Despite some FAA personnel being recalled, most of the FAA staff who certify the safety of aircraft are still furloughed. This halts the review of design approvals, development of new or revised policy/guidance, and approval of issue papers that are critical to aircraft and other product certification. Additionally, authorizations required to operate aircraft after delivery cannot be issued, while all validation programs between the FAA and other international aviation authorities are halted, hindering U.S. exports.

Training: The FAA is unable to approve training manual revisions, cannot authorize training center evaluators, and will not be able to re-certify flight simulators. Without these approvals, training centers are no longer able to provide new and recurrent safety training which results in fewer qualified pilots.

Registry and Aeronautical Center Counsel: Although the FAA Reauthorization deemed the FAA Registry Office essential in the event of a shutdown, Aeronautical Center Counsel attorneys have been deemed nonessential. While the FAA Registry is open, FAA is unable to process non-routine aircraft registrations.

The impact of this shutdown is real and growing on the general aviation manufacturing and maintenance industry. Even if the shutdown ends soon, it will likely take months for the industry to recover from the delays caused by the shutdown. Given FAA resources are tightly scheduled and planned, any movement from that schedule causes a cascading of delays through the aviation system and certification timelines. GAMA is also beginning to receive initial reports of potential layoffs particularly from smaller aviation businesses.

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