Now that the government has finally reopened, furloughed FAA aviation safety professionals can return to their jobs and air traffic controllers will again have the essential support staff and resources they need to ensure our nation's aviation system remains safe and efficient. Unfortunately, significant damage has occurred because of the shutdown. Among the examples: NextGen suffered a setback that will take months to recover from; a key deadline on the aviation calendar was missed, preventing the system from enjoying efficiency gains from updated maps and procedures; and numerous projects like fixing key navigational aids and construction on facilities like the new control tower in Las Vegas were brought to a halt. Starting up again will not be as easy or as quick as flipping a switch, it will be more like getting a freight train up to speed.
The task now remaining is stabilizing how our aviation system is funded. In order to grow, modernize and help power the U.S. economy, aviation cannot be subjected to repeated budget crises. Sequestration, the shutdown and the uncertainty they have wrought have disrupted flight schedules, peeled away layers of safety redundancies and threatened our ability to maintain fully staffed and trained workforces.
The skill, focus, dedication and passion for safety shown by air traffic controllers and other NATCA-represented safety professionals forced to work during the past 17 days, with distractions and uncertainty swirling around them, was nothing short of extraordinary. We thank each and every one of them. Aviation safety professionals love their jobs and want to continue to work collaboratively with the FAA to improve our system. We hope this episode is never repeated. Now that the shutdown is finally over, establishing a stable funding mechanism is an essential next step for lawmakers.