Several dozen groups representing a broad swath of the US aviation on Jan. 10 issued the most comprehensive warning yet of the rising “human and economic consequences” to aviation from the ongoing partial US government shutdown, now in its 20th day.

In a letter to Congress and the White House, the coalition of airlines, airports, pilots and manufacturers said FAA employees are bearing an “unsustainable and unfair” burden and that operations ranging from certifications of new products to rulemaking on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have ground to a halt as the agency tries to cope with a lack of funding and scaled-back workforce.

The groups went on to warn that training for prospective pilots had ceased because of an inability to issue new student pilot certifications; that halted development and operational testing of NextGen technologies is costing taxpayers millions of dollars in inefficiencies; and  that the review of construction applications at airports across the country has stopped completely, creating cost increases and delays for airport-improvement projects nationwide.

At a National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) rally at the US Capitol on Jan. 10, Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Washington), the chair of the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation & Infrastructure committee, warned that private sector aviation jobs, as well as public sector jobs, were at risk from the ongoing shutdown.

“In my state of Washington, we have 1,500 aerospace suppliers supplying the OEMs and airplane manufacturers all over the country,” Larsen said. “Those private sector jobs are at risk if the FAA isn’t open and making sure safety inspections are taking place, making sure that regulators can enter facilities and ensure that processes are being done the right way.”

One of the most visible signs of unease about the effects of the shutdown on the state of aviation is the operations at TSA and Customs and Border Protection (CPB), where industry groups have expressed fears that reduced staffing levels could lead to longer wait times at screening lanes and, ultimately, a reduced readiness to potential threats.

Aviation security analyst Jeff Price said that, “as more TSA workers call off, lines will grow, resulting in more crowds in public areas, which are the hardest areas to protect from terrorist attacks. Airports and airlines will be forced to respond by hiring, deploying and paying overtime for more law-enforcement personnel to patrol the public areas.”

“Also, the longer this situation goes on, TSA personnel will focus less on their jobs and more on family survival, which of course reduces effectiveness,” said Price. “We are at real risk of losing many of the trained workforce from TSA as they seek other jobs in a relatively good job market.”

Ben Goldstein, Ben.Goldstein@aviationweek.com