The partial shutdown at FAA is likely to delay several major airspace-modernization and safety initiatives, including implementation of new approach procedures at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and the roll-out of taxiway-landing warning systems at major US airports.

The shutdown forced FAA to cancel a key meeting with dozens of stakeholders that was meant to serve as a final approval of new procedures for triple-simultaneous approaches at IAD in instrument meteorological conditions.

Work on the new procedures—which are not yet needed at IAD but serve as a capacity-enhancing step and are part of the massive Northeast Corridor airspace modernization—began in 2016 and were slated to be available to airlines late this year. Cancellation of the meeting, which was to gather some 60 representatives from FAA’s air traffic organization, controllers, and airlines, means the timeline could slip by a year or more, a controller involved in the project told ATW.

“That was the last meeting we needed for everybody to bless the procedures and say yes,” the controller said. “Now, they’re telling us the [implementation] timeline is the end of 2020 or maybe 2021.”

The slippage is one example of the long-term ramifications of a shutdown that wipes calendars clean of all but essential duties. Another air traffic control-related project that is sure to be impacted: FAA’s roll-out of its Taxiway Arrival Prediction (TAP) system.

An enhancement to the Airport Surface Detection Equipment-X (ASDE-X) system installed at 35 major airports, TAP provides controllers with aural and visual alerts if an aircraft is lined up to land on a taxiway that is parallel to a runway. Each airport needs a customized system that factors in its configuration, and FAA planned to have 14 airports either equipped with TAP or evaluated for it by the end of 2018.

The shutdown has put a halt to those evaluations, which could threaten FAA’s goal of having all 35 airports upgraded by October 2020.

“Right now, we’re doing just essential work,” the controller said, which includes keeping aircraft separated. It does not include longer-term projects such as implementing new procedures.

FAA could not immediately provide updated timelines on the projects, citing the shutdown’s uncertainty. The agency earlier this week said it is recalling more than 3,000 employees, mostly aviation safety inspectors, that were furloughed when the shutdown began Dec. 22.

Sean Broderick, sean.broderick@aviationweek.com