3K FAA safety inspectors furloughed

Inspectors serve as extra layer of safety oversight

MIAMI - Despite a government shutdown, travelers on Wednesday didn't see many changes at Miami International Airport.

"We've not seen any disruptions in airport operations now nor the foreseeable future," said Emilio Gonzalez, director of Miami International Airport.

But 3,000 Federal Aviation Administration inspectors have been furloughed. Many, like Gordon Schmidt, were surprised to learn they weren't considered essential personnel.

"We are kind of like the quality control that ensures that everything continues on the right track and that everything continues to be safe," he said.

FAA inspectors check work being completed in domestic and foreign aircraft repair stations, and conduct in-flight cockpit inspections and random ramp inspections.

"There is no one out there doing any of those things as of yesterday morning," said Schmidt.

While airlines have their own quality control, the extra layer of FAA government safety overnight comes without potential commercial or profit concerns.

Passengers disagreed on whether it mattered.

"The airlines are responsible enough to make sure that their planes take off and land safely," said Maria Figueroa.

"I don't see why they're not worried, especially if this carries on for any length of time," countered Steve Menkin.

"You can't speculate or look into the future, but obviously, the quicker this is resolved, the better for all concerned," said Gonzalez.

The FAA said some of those safety inspectors may be called off furlough at a later date.

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