ABC’s Matt Hosford (@ABCAviation) reports: “Congress is jeopardizing the safety of the system and the jobs of Americans.”
That’s the message from pilots, flight attendants and air traffic controllers who gathered today at Reagan National Airport.
Against a backdrop of driving rain outside, Captain Lee Moak, President of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) drove home their message that Congress must pass a long-term Federal Aviation Administration re-authorization bill before the current one expires.
“We call on Congress to act now, to protect US jobs and ensure the US maintains the safest air transportation system in the world,” he said. “The clock is ticking.”
The clock is in fact ticking, towards a September 16th deadline. If Congress doesn’t pass a FAA re-authorization bill, the FAA may undergo another partial shutdown as occurred over the summer. That shutdown put 4,000 FAA workers out of work temporarily and cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.
Captain Moak and others acknowledge that the day-to-day safety of the flying public isn’t at risk- for instance air traffic controllers were not put out of work by this summer’s shutdown. They say the danger is down the road, if Congress fails to fully fund the FAA.
The FAA has been operating under temporary funding for years as Congress has used 21 extensions to keep the agency in business. Captain Moak blasted Congress for failing to lead and insisted that aviation professionals won’t let that happen again. “We are no longer going to remain idle and sit on the sidelines and say nothing.”
Moak was joined by Veda Shook, who represents the 60,000 flight attendants of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA). “Americans rely on the services of the FAA… people count on these services, so they should count on government to push this through,” she said. “We are here to shine a light on what’s happening inside the beltway.”