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More on GA Impact of Continuing Federal Shutdown

January 10, 2019 - Along with joining more than two dozen other aviation organizations this week in calling for an end to the partial federal shutdown, EAA has been monitoring the effects on homebuilders, student pilots, and recreational aviators as the shutdown heads toward its fourth week. Some of those effects have also changed over the first three weeks of the shutdown. Here’s what we know as of Thursday, January 10:

Student pilot certificates: The FAA is unable to issue new student pilot certificates. Since 2016, student pilot certificates have been issued directly by the FAA after a congressionally mandated background check. The inability to perform the background check and fulfill requests for new certificates means that many pre-solo students have experienced or will experience delays in their training. It could also derail teenage trainees who wish to solo on their birthdays of first eligibility.

Pilot checkrides: As designated pilot examiners (DPEs) are third-party operators, they are allowed to provide checkrides during the shutdown and complete paperwork for those checkrides, as long as the checkride does not require prior authorization. The written approval received from a DPE following a successful checkride is valid for aircraft operations. The FAA shutdown does mean that your final paperwork from the agency could be delayed.

Written exams: Again, as third-party providers host the written exams, those will continue to be available. However, the FAA is unable to issue new student pilot certificates, which will halt training for countless prospective pilots. Similarly, FAA staff cannot offer testing for new pilot certificates, nor can it issue certifications required for current pilots to upgrade their position. The FAA is also not processing mandated pilot background checks (PRIA). These are critical for continuity of operations — without these PRIA authorizations, new hire pilot training is at a standstill.

Aviation medical exams: Aviation medical examiners (AMEs) can continue to give exams and issue them as allowed under the regulations. The FAA will not issue medical certifications from the agency and special issuances will be delayed.

Inspections of new homebuilts: Inspections of newly completed homebuilts cannot take place, even by designated airworthiness representatives (DARs), because supervising FAA inspectors must enter information into the Designee Management System to authorize the inspection. For applications already approved by the supervising office, the inspection could be completed and the airworthiness certificate issued. But those trying to submit an application during the shutdown will likely have to wait.

Certificates that expire: Mechanics with inspection authorizations (IAs) and certificated flight instructors (CFIs) potentially could reach the expiration dates of their certificates with no means of renewal. Once this expiration takes place, the applicant has to retest for reinstatement per the FAA policy. Similarly, temporary certificates may begin to expire with no permanent replacements if the shutdown continues. FAA is working on potential extension solutions, but nothing is in place yet.

NTSB investigations: Additionally, the ability of the NTSB to investigate accidents has been curtailed by the partial shutdown.

EAA continues to monitor the situation and will forward any new information as it becomes available.