Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Daniel K. Elwell inquiring about the steps the FAA is taking to maintain aviation safety during the government shutdown. Since the lapse in federal funding, thousands of FAA employees have been furloughed, thousands more have been forced to work without pay, and several safety-critical functions have ground to a halt.
“As the agency entrusted to ‘provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world,’ not an hour, let alone a day, should go by without total commitment to this goal, even during this shutdown,” writes Senator Markey in the letter. “It is essential that Congress and the public understand the effect of the lapse in federal funding on FAA operations and aviation safety.”
A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found here.
In the letter, Senator Markey asks the FAA to respond to questions that include:
- Is the FAA currently completing all necessary air travel safety inspections?
- What steps is the agency taking to retain air traffic controllers during this period of financial hardship?
- Does the FAA consider hiring and training of air traffic controllers to be integral to its “safety of life” mission? With the closure of the air traffic controller training academy, please provide a detailed overview of how the agency will meet its stated FY 2019 hiring goal of over 1,400 air traffic controller trainees.
- How will the shutdown impact the costs and timing of developing the NextGen air traffic control system?
- When will the FAA resume participation in Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) activities to ensure that safety reports from front line employees are addressed?