Aviation inspectors' union says it could become unsafe to fly if shutdown continues

The partial government shutdown that began Dec. 22 continues as a stalemate between President Donald Trump and congressional leaders over his demand for $5 billion to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The president of a Central Florida union that represents aviation inspectors told Channel 9 on Monday that if the partial government shutdown continues, it could become unsafe to fly.

Although air traffic controllers and TSA workers are considered essential workers, most inspectors are not.

The group said it plans to demonstrate at Orlando International Airport for three days, beginning Tuesday, calling for an end to the shutdown.

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Each airline has its own team of safety specialists, but the FAA's aviation safety inspectors have been off the job since before Christmas.

Doug Lowe, president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists' Florida chapter, said he is among the few aviation safety specialists working during the shutdown because he maintains the equipment of air traffic controllers.

"The longer it goes without that oversight, the more dangerous the aviation system becomes," he said. "We're gambling with aviation safety right now."

The shutdown has affected almost 200 aviation safety inspectors in Central Florida, who work at airports, such as Orlando International Airport and Orlando Sanford International Airport.

"A week from now, I would tell you, 'Yes, I would not get on an aircraft,'" Lowe said.

He said he fears that some inspectors could be forced to find other jobs if the shutdown continues, which could result in a shortage of safety inspectors.