July 25, 2011
By Sarah Brown
In spite of a shutdown that furloughed more than 4,000 FAA employees, the spaces marked “FAA parking” at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis., filled up July 24 as exhibitors set up for EAA AirVenture.
The agency had assured AOPA and others July 22, when Congress adjourned without extending the FAA’s operating authority, that the resulting shutdown would not affect air traffic operations or flight safety; just how it would affect FAA educational forums and staffing at the FAA Aviation Safety Center remained unclear. FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory confirmed late July 24 that the safety center is staffed and will be open, as will the forum. And pilots should expect no interruption of air traffic control, flight service, notam processing, or other critical functions.
“All safety and security functions are the same as in past years: full staff for air traffic and all inspection services,” she told AOPA in an email.
The shutdown, so close to the start of EAA AirVenture, left many FAA and EAA staff uncertain as to how robust the FAA’s presence would be at the world’s largest airshow. EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski confirmed that some FAA officials will not be attending AirVenture.
The agency had a full schedule of educational seminars lined up, along with a Meet the Administrator forum. The FAA could not yet confirm whether the latter, a question-and-answer session with FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, would happen as scheduled July 28.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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