by: Tom Regan Updated:ATLANTA —
Channel 2 Action News has learned the Federal Aviation Administration is recalling at least 600 of 3,000 aviation safety inspectors furloughed nationwide from the partial government shutdown. Some of the inspectors will return to work at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
"We're basically a second set of eyes to assure the safety of equipment, passengers and public property in the airline industry," said furloughed inspector Bill Hoggenhout.
Hoggenhout inspects Delta Boeing 747 aircraft for the FAA.
A former airplane mechanic and chief inspector for a major airline, Hoggenhout said aviation safety inspectors provide critical oversight on aircraft maintenance, auditing and employee performance.
"It's the whole aircraft. When I fly in the aircraft, I'm checking the flight crew. My primary goal is checking
air-worthiness of the aircraft, so it's basically from the tires to the very tip of the vertical stabilizer," Hoggenhout said.
A local president of the organization that represents federal
inspectors, called the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union, said the week before he was sent home, he had inspected 15 jets.
Some passengers told Channel 2's Tom Regan they felt somewhat concerned that government inspectors were not conducting an overview of airline safety.
"If the government shutdown is going to compromise our safety, we may need to rethink whether we should travel until this deadlock is resolved," said traveler Eleanor Ross.
But other passengers said they are confident airlines can continue to ensure all
planes are properly inspected and safe to fly, even with the furlough of federal inspectors.
"We're all concerned about safety, but I have faith in the system. If there are people (federal inspectors) who are off, I'm sure they (airlines) have plans to make everything safe to fly. I feel comfortable flying," traveler Terri Dutcher said.
A spokesperson for Delta and Southwest Airlines told Channel 2 Action News the aviation inspection furloughs have had no impact on
day-to-day airline operations.