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When the FAA shuts down, we all do

I told you the blogs are back!  This topic is time-sensitive, which is why it is being sent so close to the one last week.  

No doubt you’ve been up to your ears in news pertaining to the FAA’s current shutdown as it relates to the system’s controllers. Everyone at Genesys Aerosystems can’t thank these talented men and women for staying on the job. People often give government workers a hard time, but this is proof that when the going gets tough, they’re on the job working to keep our air traffic system safe.

While the plight of controllers is well documented, what’s sort of been overlooked is the far-reaching negative impact of the FAA’s shutdown on the rest of the aviation industry. We are dealing with it on a daily basis and I can tell you it’s not pretty. 

In particular, all of our current STC projects are on hold including our Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) flights we need to complete to earn approval to install our HeliSAS Stability Augmentation System and IDU-450 EFIS displays on the EC145e helicopter. Aside from being hard on our business, it’s seriously delaying our ability to get these safety-enhancing systems in the hands of pilots. 

It’s also drastically impacting our aggressive – or at least they were – STC programs. We have several aircraft sitting in our hangar here in Mineral Wells all awaiting some kind of FAA approval or another. The worst case is one of them is ready for delivery, but because the FAA representative is not available, we can’t return it to the Standard Category and therefore we can’t deliver it back to the owner. 

And it’s not just bad for our business, avionics shops all over are unable to get field approvals on the work they are doing. Owners can’t get their aircraft and the shops can’t get paid. I, and many others in the industry don’t believe that once this is all settled that the FAA will rush to get these approvals done. Word on the street is that things like this will have a very low priority on the local FSDO’s to-do list.  

While I’m on the subject of backlogs, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the FAA’s ADS-B mandate is rapidly approaching and that both aircraft owners and avionics shops are in a full-court press to meet the deadline. Even with no FAA shutdown, avionics shops are already backlogged through the summer. I can only imagine how the current stalemate will impact the tens of thousands of ADS-B installations that will need to be done and signed-off by January 2020. 

Will there be an extension of the deadline? Who knows? But what’s clear is that there will be more than one thing to keep the folks at the FAA busy when the government does re-open for business.

While all these issues are becoming painfully obvious for our industry, on a much more personal level, I have a goal to get current (it has only been 10 years since I’ve flown) and before I can do that, I need my 3rd class medical – which I can’t get until Oklahoma is open again. I’m just hoping that won’t be long.

From OEMs, to flight schools, to owner/pilots, if there’s one thing nobody in general aviation wants, it’s any form of government roadblocks that keep us grounded. 

Until next time, fly safely,