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NATCA HOSTS AVIATION RALLY CALLING ON CONGRESS TO END GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN - (10/10/2013)

CONTACT: Sarah Dunn, 315-796-1560

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association today hosted a rally calling on lawmakers to end the government shutdown immediately. Gathering on Capitol Hill, NATCA’s leaders, alongside representatives from across the aviation community, made clear that it is not business as usual for the aviation system during this government shutdown.

“There are grave repercussions as a result of the shutdown on all aspects of the system,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. “There are real people suffering real consequences as a result of this shutdown. The only way to restore the aviation system to full staffing and speed is to end it right away. This is an increasingly difficult situation that will only worsen as it drags on. The shutdown must be stopped immediately.”

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.

Manufacturing and modernization efforts have been stopped and certification processes that are critical for general aviation to thrive have been halted. Even worse, the furloughs of safety inspectors and accident investigators may put the United States in default of its treaty obligations under the Chicago Convention and the obligations of member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

“Imagine if no citizen of the United States could buy or sell a car, purchase or re-finance a home, or if the sale of any other critical goods came to a complete and grinding halt,” said Ed Bolen, President and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). “That’s what’s basically happened in business aviation - because the industry is more regulated than other industries, the shutdown has had a far more dire impact on business aviation than for other industries. As just one example of this reality, the government shutdown has led to the closure of the FAA Aircraft Registry, and as a result, aircraft cannot be purchased, sold, imported, exported, and in some cases, flown. The many small and mid-sized companies that rely on the Registry to be open and accessible are hurting, and the shutdown is hurting the industry in a host of other ways as well. Simply put, until government leaders can get the FAA reopened, an essential American industry remains on an indefinite layover.”  

“Under the government shutdown, aircraft sales are unable to proceed and aircraft registrations are expiring daily without the opportunity for renewal, medical and pilot certificate applications are languishing, knowledge testing is shut down, and infrastructure is not being maintained,” said Mark Baker, President and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).  “AOPA calls on our elected leaders to preserve the integrity of the safest air transportation system in the world and to protect our economy by immediately restoring all aviation-related activities.”  

“Every day that Congress allows this shutdown to remain in place is putting the safety and efficiency of the aviation system at risk,” said Mike Perrone, President of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS). “This is unacceptable. The system is broken. It must be fixed. Congress may not be able to do its job, but that doesn’t mean we should be prevented from doing ours. I join with you today to tell Congress to end the shutdown NOW so we can all go back to work. We are all essential.”

“Airports and our aviation system have bent under the continuous strain of repeated budget crises, and we’re on the verge of breaking,” said Todd Hauptli, President of GOV for the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). “It’s time to end the current impasse and the ongoing threat caused by sequestration so that airports and our industry partners can get back to the business of operating and building the world-class aviation system our country deserves.”

“So far, there isn’t any evidence of negative impacts on the safety of U.S. aviation. However, the longer the government remains shutdown and the longer key safety staff are being prevented from doing their important work, the more we risk creating a situation where safety could be threatened,” said Capt. Sean Cassidy, First Vice President of the Airline Pilots Association Int’l. (ALPA). “Simply put, the safety of our skies is on borrowed time. The shutdown needs to end and we need to bring everyone back to work for the sake—and safety—of our crews, passengers, cargo, and the aviation industry as a whole.”

"General aviation aircraft manufacturers are already feeling significant and harmful effects from the shutdown," said Jens Hennig, Vice President of Operations for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). "With the FAA Aircraft Registry office closed, more than 150 newly manufactured aircraft worth more than $1.9 billion will be delayed by mid-October. Our message to the nation's political leaders is clear: End the shutdown now."

"The impact of the government shutdown, especially the shuttering of the Federal Aviation Administration, is having negative consequences for small aviation businesses across the country,” said Tom Hendricks, President and CEO of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA).  “Every sector from experimental, general, business and commercial aviation need to be as healthy as possible in order to truly unleash economic prosperity for the entire nation."

 “Our leaders need to understand that entire local economies are built around national parks and historic sites — and unlike federal workers, there is no mechanism for those small businesses and their employees to get back pay once the shutdown is over,” said Jonathan Grella, senior vice president for public affairs at the U.S. Travel Association (USTA). “We’re hearing stories of real financial pain from all over the country, and we’ve been posting them on USTravel.org in the hope of encouraging policymakers to move swiftly to end this.”

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