BREAKING NEWS : Allen County reports 25 new COVID-19 cases, 19 new deaths Full Story
BREAKING NEWS : Indiana coronavirus cases increase to 46,915; 2,488 deaths Full Story

Pilot: Shutdown adding new risk to air travel

Nobody wants to hear a recording of, "Sorry, we're closed due to nonpayment." If you're an airline pilot re...

Posted: Jan 9, 2019 7:54 AM
Updated: Jan 9, 2019 7:54 AM

Nobody wants to hear a recording of, "Sorry, we're closed due to nonpayment." If you're an airline pilot requesting an approach clearance, this would be especially troublesome to say the least. We have no checklists for such things.

Fortunately, that scenario will never occur. Air traffic controllers are an essential government service, so airplanes will still be flying despite the government shutdown. But air traffic controllers are people, not robots, and soon the situation will begin to take its toll, potentially on our safety. As a veteran airline pilot I can confirm that we will all have to be especially vigilant with all aspects of aviation operations the longer this situation continues.

Accidents, disasters and safety

Air transportation

Air transportation safety

Airlines

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Federal Aviation Administration

Government organizations - US

Safety issues and practices

Transportation and warehousing

Travel and tourism

Travel safety and security

US Department of Transportation

US federal departments and agencies

The controllers will soon be missing paychecks, and nobody wants to work for free. This will add to the burden of an already stressful job. Controllers will be fighting fatigue and the additional stress of not knowing how their mortgages and other bills will be paid.

Some of the Federal Aviation Administration staff members who support the controllers may not be available. New controllers who are learning the ropes often help veteran controllers with routine tasks. Unfortunately, the new kids have been furloughed. Adding insult to injury, the Oklahoma City training academy for controllers has closed during the shutdown, meaning the problem of chronic understaffing won't get better soon.

What does this all mean for the airways? Controllers will likely increase the distance between planes while they are flying and when they are taking off and landing. This gives controllers more time to sequence the aircraft, and increases safety. But it also means delays on the ground.

Other potential effects? The FAA is responsible for inspecting and policing each airline's operations, through principal operations inspectors assigned to each carrier. The shutdown may well have curtailed that oversight with temporary staff reductions. The FAA inspectors are also responsible for overseeing a type of pilot training called check rides. If these rides are postponed, so is the ability for some new pilots to become qualified on the aircraft for which they have trained, mostly affecting new captains. This could create a crew scheduling problem, which could have a domino effect on the airlines' ability to schedule flights.

There's plenty of concern among my (former) fellow pilots. The Airline Pilots Association, which represents about 61,000 pilots, wrote a letter to the President on January 2, asking him to end the shutdown. The association is concerned the situation is adversely affecting the "safety, security and efficiency of our national airspace system."

And finally, a growing number of Transportation Security Administration agents are apparently calling in sick, according to CNN's reporting. This means longer security lines. You can't blame these folks for a deteriorating attitude. The bigger concern is not the security rat maze, but rather the quality of the screening itself. TSA employees are good people doing thankless jobs. I would like to believe that regardless of the unfortunate circumstances, compromising security is the furthest from their minds.

Are the skies still safe? Yes, for now, only because the people protecting your safety are professionals. But they are human, so let's not push our luck with a protracted government shutdown. The next time you fly, be grateful for their dedication, and thank them if you can.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 46387

Reported Deaths: 2662
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11434680
Lake4985241
Elkhart313343
Allen2695117
St. Joseph185766
Cass16369
Hamilton1502100
Hendricks1371100
Johnson1244118
Porter69037
Tippecanoe6598
Madison64363
Clark62744
Bartholomew58044
Howard55057
LaPorte54125
Kosciusko5003
LaGrange4646
Jackson4583
Vanderburgh4576
Noble45128
Delaware42949
Boone42743
Hancock42535
Marshall4183
Shelby41825
Floyd37044
Morgan32331
Montgomery29020
Grant28726
Clinton2812
Monroe26328
Dubois2616
White25910
Decatur24732
Henry23615
Lawrence23624
Vigo2278
Harrison20822
Warrick20729
Dearborn20622
Greene18432
Miami1802
Jennings16911
Putnam1658
DeKalb1594
Scott1557
Daviess13916
Orange13323
Wayne1296
Franklin1248
Steuben1242
Perry1239
Ripley1148
Jasper1132
Carroll1092
Wabash1092
Fayette967
Newton9610
Whitley814
Randolph774
Starke773
Huntington702
Wells681
Jay670
Fulton661
Jefferson661
Washington651
Knox630
Pulaski621
Clay594
Rush563
Benton480
Adams471
Gibson462
Owen451
Sullivan441
Brown381
Blackford372
Posey360
Spencer331
Tipton301
Crawford290
Fountain292
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike80
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 52865

Reported Deaths: 2876
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin9338407
Cuyahoga7013366
Hamilton5224198
Marion273138
Lucas2628302
Pickaway217641
Summit1969206
Montgomery178426
Mahoning1752228
Butler144844
Columbiana120960
Stark1052112
Lorain96267
Trumbull86362
Warren75721
Clark7399
Belmont53421
Delaware51815
Tuscarawas51510
Fairfield50316
Medina49132
Lake44316
Miami44231
Ashtabula42144
Portage41858
Licking41611
Geauga39042
Wood38451
Clermont3566
Wayne35452
Richland3185
Allen29740
Mercer2728
Darke23625
Erie22922
Greene2229
Holmes2043
Madison1888
Huron1772
Crawford1357
Ottawa13023
Washington12720
Sandusky12213
Morrow1151
Putnam11516
Hardin11312
Ross1092
Auglaize993
Monroe8617
Coshocton811
Jefferson802
Union801
Hancock761
Hocking767
Muskingum731
Preble661
Lawrence650
Williams652
Clinton620
Guernsey603
Shelby594
Logan581
Wyandot584
Fulton570
Ashland551
Brown531
Carroll513
Defiance483
Fayette460
Highland431
Knox391
Champaign381
Athens371
Scioto360
Seneca332
Perry301
Henry290
Van Wert270
Paulding230
Vinton222
Adams211
Pike200
Jackson170
Gallia141
Harrison121
Meigs110
Noble110
Morgan90
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Scattered Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 91°
Angola
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 88°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 92°
Decatur
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 90°
Van Wert
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 90°
Heatwave Continues
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events