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Despite Government Shutdown, Nation's Airplane 'DMV' Remains Open In OKC

A commercial airplane makes its final approach into O'Hare International Airport
Charles Rex Arbogast
AP Images
A commercial airplane makes its final approach into O'Hare International Airport

In this week's episode of the Business Intelligence Report, Journal Record editor Russell Ray discusses how the ongoing partial government shutdown is affecting Oklahoma, and why the Federal Aviation Administration Registry in Oklahoma City has remained open. 

Richard Bassett: You're listening to the Business Intelligence Report, a weekly conversation about business news in Oklahoma. I'm Richard Bassett. With me is Russell Ray, editor of The Journal Record. Russell, thank you for joining me.

Russell Ray: Hi Richard. It's good to be here.

Bassett: So the partial government shutdown is into its third work week now. I'd like to refresh our listeners on some of the ways the shutdown has already been felt across the state.

Ray: Well, Oklahoma right now is ranked as the 16th most affected state by the government shutdown. That ranking is based on a comparison of several metrics including the number of federal contract dollars, number of federal jobs, and the state's share of food stamps. Officials tell us the effect on the state's agriculture industry has been minimal to this point. Federal inspections of meat, poultry and grain inspections continue and the heads of several state agencies told us they're really not expecting any major disruptions in their operations.

Bassett: I'd like to talk about the Federal Aviation Administration. Early in this shutdown, the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City furloughed over 1000 employees while others continue to work without a guarantee of being paid on time. There's been a lot of reporting on the shutdown's impact to air traffic controllers and the training that takes place at Mike Monroney. But something I found interesting was that the FAA Office in OKC also plays a significant role in the sale and registration of aircraft across the country.

Ray: Yeah that's right Richard. Oklahoma City's FAA Office does play a significant role in aircraft sales nationwide and that's because the OKC office serves as the clearinghouse for documents related to civil aeronautics. It's essentially the airplane equivalent of the DMV. The office handles about 60,000 aircraft registrations every year.

Bassett: So during the government shutdown in 2013 more than 15,000 FAA employees were furloughed causing the retail aircraft industry we're talking about to close down. But in an article published last week Journal Record reporter Brian Brus explained that the FAA registry in Oklahoma City is still open during this shutdown thanks to some legislation passed at the end of 2018?

Ray: Five years ago during the last government shutdown all processing of aircraft registrations stopped in the OKC office. It essentially created a bottleneck for weeks after the shutdown ended. So to prevent that from happening again Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. So under that law the registry in OKC was recognized as a vital and essential operation and can remain open during future government shutdowns.

Bassett: In the article, Brus mentions some other FAA offices in Oklahoma City that haven't been able to stay open like the Aeronautical Central Council office, for example. Has that had any major impacts?

Ray: That's right. That office is indeed closed. As a result, some officials can't provide legal direction on registrations involving certain circumstances such as trusts and limited liability corporations.

Bassett: Looking ahead if the government shutdown continues for much longer are there any other potential impacts to keep an eye on?

Ray: Well nationwide some airports are feeling the effects with longer lines at checkpoints. And that's essentially because security officers are reportedly calling in sick because they're not getting paid right now. And if the shutdown continues much longer those who receive food stamps will begin seeing some effects.

Bassett: Russell Ray is the editor of The Journal Record. Thanks for your time today Russell.

Ray: My pleasure, Richard. Thank you.

Bassett: KGOU and The Journal Record collaborate each week on The Business Intelligence Report. You can follow us on social media. We're on Facebook and Twitter, @journalrecord and @kgounews. Past episodes of The Business Intelligence Report are available on our website, KGOU.org. While you're there you can check out other features and podcast produced by KGOU. And you can find a link to the story we discussed during this episode at JournalRecord.com

The Business Intelligence Report is a collaborative news project between KGOU and The Journal Record.

As a community-supported news organization, KGOU relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online, or by contacting our Membership department.

The Journal Record is a multi-faceted media company specializing in business, legislative and legal news. Print and online content is available via subscription.

Music provided by Midday Static.

Richard is a graduate of The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Arizona. He spent three years working for Studiomedia Recording Company in Chicago, where he furthered his audio engineering education. After one too many battles with the snow and the cold, Richard returned home and enrolled in The University of Oklahoma. He has a bachelor's degree in anthropology and graduate study in Professional Writing.
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