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Government Shutdown Affecting Air Safety

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is continuing its urgent call for an end to the partial U.S. government shutdown, now the longest in history, this time turning to the general public at select airports with a leaflet campaign. Air traffic controllers and other safety professionals will discuss the safety and efficiency ramifications of the shutdown directly with travelers through the leaflet campaign.

These leaflets, detailing the effects on controllers, staffing, and modernization projects, initially will be distributed at airports in Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Raleigh/Durham. This is to expand to 50 airports nationwide in the following days.

Prolonged Shutdown Affecting Training, Flight Permits

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Prolonged Shutdown Affecting Training, Flight Permits

Full ramifications were not immediately felt, given the timing of the shutdown, but some operators are already encountering issues.

This campaign comes as NATCA is scheduled to appear before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for a hearing on its motion for a temporary restraining order against the U.S. government. On January 11, NATCA filed a lawsuit alleging violation of the Fifth Amendment for unlawfully ceasing wages without due process and for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for failure to pay at least the minimum wage to controllers who are working during the shutdown.

The association further hosted a recent rally bringing in a cross-section of industry, along with a number of lawmakers, to highlight their collective concerns to government leaders.

“This shutdown…is having unacceptable effects on our airspace system and the thousands of hard-working men and women who work tirelessly to maintain what is the safest and most efficient airspace system in the world,” said NATCA president Paul Rinaldi. “The shutdown must end immediately. Our union will not stop until the government reopens.”