Pilots in training can't get tests graded because of shutdown

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There's more fallout in the aviation industry as a result of the government shutdown.

Local pilots in training as well as others around the country say they are unable to get their licenses because Federal Aviation Administration workers who grade their written tests are off the job.

"That, as of last Friday, has shut down, so anyone who wants to get their check ride done and get any pilot certification and go forward with their written test will not receive their pilot's license," said Matt Kinney, a flight instructor at Sterling Flight training at Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport.

Kinney said student pilots must pass an FAA written test before they can earn a private pilot's license. That means student pilots who have for weeks been working to get their wings are instead left on the ground, which does nothing to sharpen their skills.

"Obviously that can impede students' progress a lot, because if this goes on for two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, sitting on the ground, you lose a lot of finesse to be at the highest level of the check ride," Kinney said.

The government shutdown is also having an effect on foreign pilots in the U.S. If they want to fly a plane, they have have to be approved and certified by the FAA, but the FAA isn't at work.

Kinney said some students in flight school have spent nearly $10,000 so far. The longer the shutdown continues, the higher the chances they'll need more training.

"One, as a flight instructor, you're frustrated because your student is frustrated, and then on top of that you want to see your students pass," Kinney said. "You help to get them from not being able to fly to flying. It's a satisfying feeling."

If the shutdown continues, flight instructors say they'll be pushing to find a substitute method to certify their students.

Also, on a side note, all airplane sales have come to a halt because the FAA registration office is closed, which means no title searches, no registration, no sale.

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