ORLANDO, Fla. — With no definite end in sight for the ongoing partial federal government shutdown, inspectors who oversee the safety of air travel say they’re worried about the safety of air travelers.
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While TSA workers and air-traffic controllers are considered “essential” workers and on the job, the aviation inspectors are furloughed.
Doug Lowe, president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists Florida Chapter, says he’s just one of a few aviation safety specialists still working during the federal government shutdown. A few must stay on to make sure equipment for air-traffic controllers stays up and running.
But Lowe says nearly 200 safety inspectors at Orlando International Airport, who keep a close eye on airlines to make sure they’re following Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations, aren’t working.
“That’s a huge concern for myself as well as others in PASS, because we know these inspections need to get done to ensure the proper oversight is done for the airlines,” Lowe said.
Although he works for the FAA, Lowe is speaking on behalf of the union.
He says airlines are still likely inspecting their aircraft for safety, but there’s currently no one with the federal government to oversee that conduct federal inspections.
“It’s a little bit concerning, but I’m sure the airport and other airports have an idea of what to do in this situation,” said Tim Smith, who was flying out of Orlando the day after Christmas.
Isabelle Wassilie, who was also flying out of Orlando, says she has concerns.
“… the biggest rule for a pilot is to keep your aircraft and your passengers safe, so if they’re not doing that then you’re putting everybody in danger,” she said.
Lowe says most planes in the air now have had recent inspections, but he says the longer the shutdown goes on, the more those planes will go unchecked.
“We get in a situation where … what inspections have been missed? What things have not been seen by our inspectors to ensure the safety of the flying public? And that’s our major concern,” he said.
And Lowe says he’s concerned about his co-workers who can’t go very long without a paycheck. He worries if the shutdown continues, some of those workers may have to find other jobs to make ends meet.