January 24, 2019

Aircraft Deliveries to U.S. Held Up


The U.S. government shutdown is affecting deliveries of Canadian-made aircraft to the U.S.

The U.S.-based National Air Transportation Association reports that one of its member companies has two aircraft in Canada where they recently received new paint jobs. Since they require an FAA permit to return to the U.S., they are effectively stranded in Canada. Any flights requiring FAA ferry permits across the border are also being held up.

A continued U.S. government shutdown could affect the Mirabel facility where the Airbus A220 (ex-Bombardier CSeries) is currently manufactured. Delta Airlines had planned to begin flying the Airbus A220 on January 31. FAA inspectors need to give final approval before the aircraft enter service, so that target date looks in doubt now, according to William Hoogenhout, a business agent for the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union, which represents some FAA inspectors. He says it will begin getting worse for Delta as they were expecting to add two aircraft each week to their fleet.

Deliveries of other Canadian-built aircraft may also be affected if the shutdown continues for much longer.

Although the FAA has recalled ‘thousands’ of furloughed inspectors last week, those who do show up are meant to address safety concerns. That, presumably, means that routine processes, such as signing off on aircraft deliveries, may have to wait.

As for air traffic controllers, whose jobs are classified as an essential service, they have continued on the job, though without pay for over a month. The controllers’ union regional vice-president Andrew LeBovidge had this to say, “Is it safe? Yes, it’s safe. Can we survive this for long? That’s a question I don’t want to answer. I hope we can.”