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Continuing Federal Shutdown Raises Aviation Concerns

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In day two of the federal government shutdown, airlines continue to run on schedule with fully staffed control towers, and general aviation pilots have seen few impacts -- but the longer it goes on, the more effects will be felt, according to GA advocacy groups. Although air traffic controllers remain on the job, 3,000 support workers in the ATC system have been furloughed, says Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. The furloughs will delay the opening of a new runway at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, and will delay the approval of safety-related equipment modifications to aircraft. "It is unacceptable that thousands of our aviation safety professionals have been forced to stay home due to partisan posturing in Congress," Rinaldi said. The NTSB also was immediately affected, as the go-team assigned to investigate the fatal Citation crash in Santa Monica was sent home on Tuesday.

The wreckage of the CJ2 will be stored in a hangar until investigators can return to continue their work, officials said. The safety board's usually-busy Twitter feed has been silent since Monday, and no updates have been posted to the agency's website. If the shutdown continues, it also may delay certification of Boeing's newest version of the Dreamliner, the stretched 787-9. Boeing spokesman John Dern told Bloomberg News that normal deliveries of the current fleet won't be affected, since Boeing workers have the delegated authority to approve each jet off the production line. The Transportation Department says in its planning document (PDF) that 2,490 workers in the Office of Aviation Safety who have been furloughed will be "recalled to work incrementally over a two-week period."

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