The Federal Aviation Administration's air traffic controllers will continue to work during the government shutdown, but more than 110 safety inspectors and other staff will be furloughed at airports across Southern California.
The furloughs -- which include FAA administrators, support staff, engineers who work on airport facilities and safety inspectors -- started Tuesday and effectively gut the agency's ability to oversee critical aspects of the nation's aviation system.
U.S. government agencies were ordered to close for the first time in more than 17 years after lawmakers stalemated over Republican efforts to block President Obama's healthcare law.
More than 800,000 federal workers were to spend Tuesday, the first day of the new fiscal year, on unpaid furloughs as agency managers executed contingency plans for the costly process of closing down operations indefinitely.
More than 110 FAA safety inspectors were off the job throughout Southern California on Tuesday. The officials are responsible for inspecting aircraft and aviation repair shops both here and abroad. They also oversee pilot and mechanic certifications, aviation mechanics schools and flight instruction.
About 20 FAA inspectors work at Los Angeles International Airport, 35 to 40 at Van Nuys Airport, 21 to 26 at Long Beach Airport, 20 at San Diego International Airport and 15 to 20 in Riverside, according to figures from the FAA and Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, the union that represents the officials.
"PASS is outraged that the FAA would consider safety inspectors as playing anything but a pivotal role in protecting the safety of the American public," said union President Mike Perrone. "Furloughing this critical workforce is neither in the best interest of the economy nor the oversight of this country's aviation system."
The local inspectors are among 2,917 FAA safety inspectors that have been furloughed nationally during the shutdown.
Meanwhile, National Transportation Safety Board officials said Tuesday that their investigation into the deadly crash of a private jet Sunday evening in Santa Monica had also been suspended due to the federal government shutdown.
The agency will store the wreckage of the Cessna Citation 525 at a secure site until the investigation can resume. And local authorities will continue to work the site, where four people were killed when the jet burst into flames.