Posted at: 10/04/2013 12:23 AM
| Updated at: 10/04/2013 12:30 AM
By: Steve Flamisch
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) furloughed about a third of its 46,000 employees nationwide, a spokeswoman said.
ALBANY -- Thousands of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety inspectors are furloughed as a result of the government shutdown, leaving the airlines to inspect their own planes without the usual level of federal oversight.
The union that represents the furloughed employees, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), warned this week that "the safety of the flying public" depends on the inspectors.
"Every day that Congress allows this shutdown to remain in place is putting the safety and efficiency of the aviation system at risk," PASS National President Mike Perrone said. "These unnecessary FAA furloughs are decreasing the safety margin and cannot be allowed to continue."
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told NewsChannel 13 the airlines are still required to conduct their own safety checks, but she acknowledged that federal inspectors are not on duty to ensure compliance -- at least for now.
"If the furlough extends longer than a few days, we will begin to recall as many as 2,500 employees (nationwide) back to work incrementally, including safety inspectors, engineers and technical support staff, depending on need," the FAA said in a statement.
The inspectors are based locally at the FAA Flight Standards District Office, 7 Airport Park Blvd. in Latham. Only the facility's manager was not furloughed, Brown said.
Deborah Leszczynski, whose daughter flew into Albany International Airport on Thursday, said she wants the federal inspectors to return to work as quickly as possible.
"If they can’t double check the airlines... it's dangerous," Leszczynski, of Niskayuna, said. "The safety of the people flying and the planes, the actual maintenance for the planes, is an issue."
The FAA's air traffic controllers and the Transportation Security Administration's screeners remained on duty, an airport spokesman said.