The Government Shutdown is Endangering Airline Pilots

Published: 01-15-2019
The government is still shutdown. How are pilots being hurt?

The government shutdown continues with no end in sight. Fortunately, most people have the luxury of not feeling the impact of this decision. The same cannot be said for the airline industry.

Here, the repercussions of the U.S. government shutdown are having major impacts. The most immediately noticeable impact for workers is a lack of a paycheck. With the federal government shutdown since December 22nd, federal employees won’t be getting paid.

And this week is the first payment cycle where FAA employees received paystub equaling zero dollars. Having to forego yet another paycheck at the end of January may be the final breaking point.

Very few Americans can go an entire month without pay. Especially if they are providing free labor, accruing other expenses, and unable to draw unemployment because they are still employed.

This is the current situation for the TSA. Since TSA employees are considered an essential part of the Department of Homeland Security, they are required to work. Paycheck or not.

To make the situation even worse, TSA employees are not the only ones feeling the grind. Other essential airline employees are getting similar treatment. And if TSA employees begin calling in sick en masse or even going on strike, pilots may be furloughed or, worse, put in danger.

Airline Positions Going Unpaid

Working and not getting paid for the labor is unacceptable and unsustainable. Yet TSAs, air traffic controllers, and FAA safety inspectors are being asked to do just that.

Without these workers, safety is forfeit at the airport. TSAs work hard to ensure no lethal items make it on board. If they leave their posts to take a job that actually puts food on the table, that increases the odds of potentially harmful objects flying with you on your next flight.

And that’s only if the airplane can leave the airport. If air traffic controllers can no longer afford to remain vigil in their position, pilots seeking a way to safely take off will unable to do so. It’s not an easy job trying to coordinate takeoff and landing schedules with over 40,000 other pilots at the same time. But that’s what roughly 10,000 ATCs do every day.

Long Term Effects

As we mentioned above, FAA inspectors are also caught up in the government shutdown. Most of you are familiar with at least one inspector. Namely, the person who took part in your pilot certification. These individuals have put a halt to issuing pilot certification over the past month.

And who can blame them? In addition to training, FAA inspectors are also responsible for airport inspection. These tasks, such as ensuring pilots can see the runway at night, are necessary for safety in the aviation industry.

While the essential safety tasks take up all the inspectors’ time, very few rookie pilots are getting certified to fly. And this will further increase the pilot shortage and may increase demand and workload for current pilots.

It’s long past time the government reopens. If the government cannot reopen, then it may be the airports that have to shut down next.

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