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If the Federal Government Shuts Down...

April 7, 2011 — If the federal government were to shut down at midnight Friday, April 8 - when the current continuing resolution is set to expire - hundreds of thousands of federal employees would essentially be furloughed until Congress passes new funding legislation. Not only does that mean the closing of national parks, museums, and monuments, but also passport applications, social security checks, and many other everyday functions would be put on hold. A federal shutdown would also have a significant effect on agencies that oversee aviation, including the FAA and the NTSB.

Federally funded services categorized as “essential” would continue, including police and firefighting, military, utilities, corrections operations, and air traffic control. Most functions of the FAA, therefore, would be unavailable.

An FAA spokesperson issued the following statement regarding what will happen at the agency in the event of a government shutdown:

“Agency operational plans are still being finalized, but our current understanding is that the FAA will retain all the employees necessary to keep the national airspace system operating safely. However, some functions would be suspended including aircraft certification, the development, testing and evaluation of NextGen technologies, and most budget and administrative activities. We still believe there is an opportunity to avoid a government shutdown but are working to ensure that we are prepared for all possible scenarios.”

The last time the federal government shut down (November 14-19 in 1995 and December 16, 1995-January 6, 1996) NTSB was categorized as “essential,” but if the shut-down occurs Friday only three people within the agency’s Office of Aviation Safety would be designated as “essential” and be available; the rest would be sent home effective midnight Friday.

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