If you live in the United States, there’s a good chance you are aware of the potential government shutdown that looms over Congress. If Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on federal spending, government operations will cease to function beginning on Sunday, October 1, 2023.
The obvious question for the aviation industry is whether the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be included in this government shutdown. The FAA manages and controls essentially every aspect of U.S. air travel and is responsible for maintaining the aircraft registry that much of the world relies on. As for aircraft transactions, the Public Documents Room (PD Room) is where U.S. aircraft registrations are made, and it requires government staffing to process new registrations. Without confirmation of filing from the PD Room, an aircraft cannot legally fly in the United States.
As of Wednesday, September 27, there has been no formal announcement from the Registry concerning staffing amidst the shutdown. However, the Department of Transportation, which the FAA operates under, has released plans for operations in the event of a shutdown.
Included in these plans is confirmation that the FAA will still function (at a limited scale) during the government shutdown. On page 3 of the released plans, the FAA Registry is included as an operation that is expected to function through the shutdown, which is excellent news for the aircraft transaction industry. These plans were created on August 3 but were approved more recently on September 22. Our hope and expectation is that the Registry will confirm these plans in the coming days.
Assuming that the Public Documents Room and the Registry as a whole are fully staffed, anyone looking to file registration documents can breathe a sigh of relief. If it is announced that the Registry will have a limited staff, document filing will likely be delayed causing registrations and flywires to arrive later than expected.
As always, if you have any questions regarding registration and the status of the FAA, you can reach out to our staff at Gilchrist Aviation Law.
Update as of 9/29/2023
On Friday, September 29 at 1:37 pm, an FAA administrator confirmed that the Civil Aircraft Registry and PD Room will be fully operational. From a registration standpoint, transactions should not expect any delay in processing due to the government shutdown.