The International Federation of Air Traffic Safety Electronics Associations (IFATSEA), which represents air traffic safety electronic professionals (ATSEP) around the world, has shared its deep concerns over the partial shutdown of the United States Government.
“The United States one of the world’s safest, sophisticated, and complex National Airspace System (NAS),” IFATSEA leadership said, expressing fears that its well-established safety chain is now being compromised by the shutdown through a combination of human factor elements including stress, distraction, and fatigue.
It added that ASTEPs are a key element of the NAS safety chain, supporting air traffic operations in that technicians provide maintenance and certification of the communication, navigation and surveillance systems used by air traffic controllers and pilots.
“ATSEPs, along with air traffic controllers are still working despite of the government shutdown but are not being compensated for this work,” it said. “This past Tuesday (January 15) brought the first pay check with a net pay of $0.00. These are professionals dedicated to their work, but the added stress of providing for their families, paying their mortgages and other bills is distracting them from their critical duties.”
It added that aviation safety inspectors also play a key role in the ensuring the safety of the NAS but that for the past 24 days, the vast majority of the aviation safety inspectors have been off the job, meaning limited or no oversight of: commercial and general aviation aircraft, pilots, flight instructors and domestic and foreign repair stations.
“Without aviation safety professionals performing this important work, many aviation safety efforts will be delayed, which could seriously limit the number of aircraft able to operate in the NAS. As of January 16, approximately 1,700 aviation safety inspectors have been called back to work with no pay, while support and administrative staff are still furloughed.”