The private aviation industry is reacting to expected damages from the alternately named Schumer and Trump Shutdown which is closing large parts of the U.S. government

 

Following up on a plea by National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) CEO Ed Bolen outlining the economic damage to business aviation and the economy from the government shutdown, six leaders in general aviation (GA) today sent a letter to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao calling for reopening the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) United States Aircraft Registry. The NBAA and fellow GA groups argued that the U.S. Registry performs essential functions for safety, security and fulfilling international aviation treaties. A copy of the full letter in its entirety is at the end of this post.

 

“We respectfully submit that DOT has authority under the Anti-deficiency Act to staff the U.S. Registry,” the letter reads, “as it is vital to protection of human life and property, and necessary for the U.S. to fulfill its ongoing international legal obligations.”

 

Even during a government shutdown, certain essential functions are exempted from closure. The letter cites several national security, law enforcement and aviation safety functions that rely on the U.S. Registry, as well as treaties related to the registration of aircraft.

 

The closure of the U.S. Registry also precludes the delivery of aircraft, as the GA groups make clear. General aviation aircraft and parts cannot be purchased, sold, financed or maintained without the written approval of the FAA personnel who staff the registry. According to the FAA, 10,000 aircraft registrations expire each month.

 

“The U.S. Registry’s closure had a profound impact on our manufacturers and workforce during the 2013 government shutdown,” the GA leaders write, “as it disrupted hundreds of aircraft transactions valued at over $1.5 billion.”

 

Citing the legal framework for the FAA to meet its vital and binding obligations, the GA leaders argue the registry performs several essential functions, including:

 

Safety: FAA officials have said that out-of-date registration information (including safety-related information) could possibly result in loss of property or personal injury.

 

Security: As FAA officials have also said, “various levels of law enforcement have used and continue to use registration data for drug and other law enforcement purposes.” Additionally, those efforts “now have expanded to include matters of homeland security.”

 

International Treaties: The U.S. Registry is obligated, under international aviation treaties, to provide other nations with aircraft ownership information, when requested. These agreements include the Chicago Convention and the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (“Cape Town Convention”).

Underlining these essential functions, and the enormous economic consequences, the GA leaders conclude the letter by urging Secretary Chao, in the strongest possible terms, to immediately reopen the aircraft registry.

 

Signing the letter are: Mark Baker, president and CEO, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Ed Bolen, president and CEO, NBAA; Pete Bunce, president and CEO, General Aviation Manufacturers Association; Martin Hiller, president, National Air Transportation Association; Jack Pelton, chairman and CEO, Experimental Aircraft Association; and Matthew Zuccaro, president and CEO, Helicopter Association International.

Letter to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao from Business Aviation leaders:

Dear Secretary Chao:

 

We are writing to urge the Department to restore the full functioning of the FAA’s Aircraft Registration Branch (“U.S. Registry”) during the current government shutdown. The U.S. Registry in Oklahoma City performs a critical role in the safe operation of aircraft and fulfills international obligations of the United States. As a result, we respectfully request that you and the Acting Administrator declare the registry as performing essential functions, and recall an adequate number of employees to reopen the registry.

 

We respectfully submit that DOT has authority under the Anti-deficiency Act,1

to staff the U.S. Registry as it is vital to protection of human life and property, and necessary for the U.S. to fulfill its ongoing international legal obligations under the Chicago Convention and the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (“Cape Town Convention”) relating to the registration of aircraft.

 

The FAA has long recognized the importance of accurate U.S. Registry information in carrying out its responsibilities in overseeing the safety and operation of aircraft on the U.S. Registry and in fulfilling its obligations under international treaties governing aviation.

 

For example, the FAA has made clear that accurate and up to date U.S. Registry information is essential to allow the FAA to carry out its safety and oversight duties – ones that are critical to the protection of human life and property. We have compiled and attached some examples of the FAA’s public statements on the public safety, security, and international obligations associated with the U.S. Registry for your reference.

 

Additionally, the current closure of the U.S. Registry precludes the delivery of aircraft. This encompasses any aircraft that is sold domestically, exported, or imported as these transactions require FAA approval and must receive a certificate of aircraft registration to process financing.

 

The U.S. Registry’s closure had a profound impact on our manufacturers and workforce during the 2013 government shutdown as it disrupted hundreds of aircraft transactions valued at over $1.9 billion.

 

As you are well aware, certain activities, including emergency circumstances relating to health and safety and functions necessary to discharge the President’s constitutional duties and powers, are exempted from the restrictions of the Anti-deficiency Act. Again, we commend you for taking actions to bring off furlough other

safety-sensitive FAA personnel, but urge you in the strongest possible terms, in the interests of safety, security, and our international obligations, as well as the enormous economic consequences of its closure, to immediately reopen the aircraft registry.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 

Sincerely,

About the Author Doug Gollan

I am Founder and Editor of Private Jet Card Comparisons, the only independent buyer's guide to jet card membership programs, and DG Amazing Experiences, a weekly luxury travel e-newsletter for private jet owners. I am also a contributor to Forbes.com