Should you be worried about flying? What we know about air travel during the shutdown

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Unions representing air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants offered an urgent warning on Wednesday that the lengthy government shutdown had created serious safety concerns for the nation’s air travel system. “In our risk averse industry,” their presidents said in a joint statement, “we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break," reports Patrick McGeehan and Thomas Kaplan for the New York Times.

Jan 25th, 2019
Should you be worried about flying? What we know about air travel during the shutdown
Should you be worried about flying? What we know about air travel during the shutdown
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Unions representing air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants offered an urgent warning on Wednesday that the lengthy government shutdown had created serious safety concerns for the nation’s air travel system. “In our risk averse industry,” their presidents said in a joint statement, “we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break," reports Patrick McGeehan and Thomas Kaplan for the New York Times.

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The Intelligent Aerospace take:

January 25, 2019-Now into the second month of the partial government shutdown, essential federal employees like TSA agents and air traffic controllers have now missed their second paycheck despite ostensibly working full-time. Air traffic controllers, who already facing staffing shortages, are working up to 60 hours a week in six 10-hour shifts to keep America's air traffic moving.

In addition to the long unpaid hours, Paul M. Rinaldi, the president of the air traffic controllers' union, said he was “starting to see routine mistakes in clearances being made because controllers are distracted.”

While technology has made air travel much safer than previous eras, the human element must be accounted for to ensure passengers and cargo to get where they are going.

Related: Air traffic controller union sues U.S. federal government over non-payment of wages

Related: TSA: Screeners calling out for financial reasons

Related: TSA calls in backup officers as absences of unpaid airport screeners rise

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Intelligent Aerospace

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