Government Shutdown Jeopardizes Aircraft Sales

NBAA warns more than $1 billion in orders at stake.

United States Capitol

United States Capitol

The government shutdown has put a temporary halt on aircraft sales transactions after the FAA's registration office in Oklahoma City was ordered closed on October 1. If the shutdown drags on and the FAA office remains shut, more than $1 billion worth of airplane deliveries could be in jeopardy, aviation industry leaders warn.

The National Business Aviation Association sent an urgent letter to President Obama and Congress spelling out the dire consequences the shutdown could have on the ability of aircraft manufacturers to deliver their products.

As long as the FAA Registry remains closed, virtually all business and general aviation aircraft transactions are in limbo, according to NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Not only have deliveries of new airplanes stopped, the shutdown is also impacting sales of used airplanes, which cannot be registered while the FAA employees who handle registration paperwork are on furlough.

"By closing the FAA Registry in Oklahoma City, the government shutdown has effectively brought to a halt the U.S. general aviation industry and is jeopardizing the future of thousands of U.S. small businesses," said NBAA President Ed Bolen. He noted that some aircraft deliveries and sales have already been affected and urged Congress to take steps to reopen the registration office before more deals are impacted.

According to media reports out of Wichita, legislation is being drafted in the House to get basic FAA services, including the FAA Registry, back up and running. There was no indication of when a bill might be introduced. The Senate, however, has shown little interest in passing stopgap bills crafted by the House, and the White House could very easily veto any bill aimed solely at aiding the business aviation industry.

The shutdown is also preventing aircraft owners from renewing expired registrations. The FAA estimates that 10,000 aircraft registrations expire at the end of each month. If the shutdown continues beyond October 31 and the FAA Registry remains closed, the first batch of airplanes due for new registrations will effectively be grounded.

Instigated by House Republicans who want to delay the start of certain provisions of the new government health care law, the shutdown has already put a stop to FAA airman written tests, which the FAA says can no longer be administered after October 4.

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