The U.S. government shutdown is blocking Boeing Co., Airbus and general aviation manufacturers in Wichita and elsewhere from delivering aircraft to customers, even though hundreds of furloughed workers are being recalled this week.
While recalls by the Federal Aviation Administration will allow aircraft made by Boeing to be certified, they will not allow planemakers to perform a final step, registration.
A group of leaders from general aviation trade groups is urging U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to reopen its aircraft registry office, saying it’s necessary for the FAA to provide essential services.
General aviation aircraft parts cannot be produced, financed, bought or sold without the written approval of the federal government, which has to register every aircraft, the National Business Aircraft Association, a trade group, said.
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The FAA’s registry office in Oklahoma City deals with about 10,000 aircraft registrations a month, according to the NBAA.
The FAA registry office remains closed, the FAA said Tuesday. The office issues registration numbers for planes and pilots, required for a sale and the export and import of an airplane. It also manages all legal filings required for aircraft transactions, including those tied to securing financing.
Closing the registry office is having an increasingly detrimental impact on the industry and on the FAA’s ability to carry out its legal obligations in the areas of safety, security and international treaty functions, the NBAA said.
It’s stopped nearly all airplane sales.
Closing the registry threatens the industry’s economic recovery and the ability to provide good, high-paying jobs at a time the industry is making a comeback, General Aviation Manufacturers Association president Pete Bunce said in a statement.
“The FAA has made clear that accurate and up-to-date U.S. Registry information is essential to allow the FAA to carry out its safety and oversight duties – ones that are critical to the protection of human life and property,” said a letter to Foxx signed by the NBAA, the GAMA and four other aviation trade groups. “Additionally, the current closure of the U.S. Registry precludes the delivery of aircraft. This encompasses any aircraft that is sold domestically, exported or imported as these transactions require FAA approval and must receive a certificate of aircraft registration to process financing.”
On Monday, the FAA recalled about 800 furloughed employees to focus on airworthiness directives to ensure safety of aircraft in the fleet and safety oversight activities, including air carriers, repair stations and production facilities.
Closing the aircraft registry office is unprecedented. In the previous government shutdown, the office stayed open, according to the GAMA.
Airbus said on Tuesday that the office closure prevented it from delivering jets to JetBlue Airways Corp. and US Airways Group Inc.
“The airlines have been unable to get U.S. registrations for those aircraft, so, unfortunately, the aircraft they need for operations remain outside of the U.S.,” an Airbus spokeswoman said.
Boeing and U.S. airlines were expected to benefit from the recall of up to 800 safety personnel from furlough. Those furloughs had threatened to halt certification of 787 Dreamliners made at the company’s South Carolina factory.
Although the 800 workers were to return to work this week, about 15,500 FAA employees were initially furloughed in the government shutdown on Oct. 1, about one-third of the FAA’s total staff of 46,000.
The FAA said it had no information about when the registry might reopen.
Contributing: Molly McMillin of The Eagle and Reuters news service