Air traffic control association leader: Shutdown 'ripple effect' may last years

Andrew LeBovidge, the leader of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, on Monday predicted that the partial government shutdown's "ripple effect" may last months, "if not years," for aviation safety professionals.

LeBovidge appeared on "CNN Newsroom" on Monday, 17 days into the government shutdown that has left 800,000 federal employees furloughed or working without pay. 

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"The men and women that we represent, nearly 20,000 aviation safety professionals, are diligently working through this shutdown to be guardians of our skies and they have the uncertainty of not knowing when their next paycheck is arriving," LeBovidge said. "The shutdown to us is unacceptable and it needs to end."

LeBovidge said that the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) training programs and "modernization endeavors" have halted due to the shutdown. 

"We are already in a critically staffed situation, and with the shutdown, the training pipeline has been cut short and there is no relief in sight," LeBovidge said. "Training has stopped ... and we will feel the ripple effects of the lack of personnel for months if not years to come."

"The system works as a very integrated web of technologies and procedures that were currently in development," he added. "And the modernization endeavors that the FAA had been undergoing have all ground to an abrupt halt so we will start seeing future changes not manifest in a timely manner." 

LeBovidge's remarks come days after an international pilots association urged President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos claims he was pressured to sign plea deal Tlaib asking colleagues to support impeachment investigation resolution Trump rips 'Mainstream Media': 'They truly are the Enemy of the People' MORE to end the shutdown, saying that it has adversely affected the "safety, security and efficiency of our national airspace system."

"The nation’s airspace system is a complex transportation network that involves government and industry partnerships to function properly, and the disruptions being caused by the shutdown are threatening the safe operations of this network," Joe DePete, the president of Air Line Pilots Association, International, wrote in the Jan. 2 letter.

Reports have emerged in recent days that increasing numbers of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers are calling in sick as the shutdown drags on, resulting in long lines at major airports.

About 55,000 TSA employees, who screen about 800 million airplane passengers each year, are considered essential employees and are required to work without pay during the shutdown.

The shutdown has dragged on as the White House and Democratic leaders fail to come to an agreement over Trump's demand for $5 billion to fund a southern border wall.