FAA Stalemate Hits Hard in LA

Many of the employees furloughed work at a regional branch in Hawthorne

A partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration has led to more than 150 furloughs at the regional office in Lawndale.

Related: Stalemate Hurts California Projects

Of the 206 Federal Aviation Administration employees in California that are furloughed, 168 work in the regional office.

Sam Samad, an airport programming manager and father of three with degrees in engineering and business recieved a furlough letter a couple of weeks ago.  "I understand this will take more than one month, so we may be tapping our retirement funds", says Samad.

President Barack Obama is imploring the House and Senate to end the partial shutdown within days. 

Approximately 130 of the employees in Hawthorne are from the engineering services division. Their role includes designing and supervising capital improvement projects such as air traffic control towers and installing new equipment.

The division's managers and support staff have also been furloughed.

Most of the remaining furloughed employees are from the airports division. They evaluate, process and issue Airport Improvement Program grants and conduct environmental reviews of proposed airport improvement projects.

Additionally, two attorneys and two people from the flight standards division have been furloughed.

Dozens of stop-work orders were issued last week for modernization and improvement projects after Congress went into a month long vacation without ending the impasse over funding for the FAA. 

About $131.5 million in construction projects at airports across the state are affected, including a $14-million control tower in Palm Springs and $31-million control tower Oakland, according to the FAA's website. The government is also missing out on $30 million per day in airline taxes.

Air traffic controllers have remained on the job, as well as FAA employees who inspect the safety of planes and test pilots.

Back at the Samad house, everyone is now helping dad save money.  His teenaged daughter and son had to give up their cell phones.  Back to school shopping, a planned summer vacation, even air conditioning has all been cut.  "After I thought about it, I understood everything", says Samad's 14 year old daughter, Maha.

Samad says he can't understand how Congress can skip town while thousands of American families now face uncertain finances and cutbacks.  He serves as President of the FAA's National Union.  The time he would have spent at work is now being used to field phone calls and emails from union members. "The hardships they're going through...it is affecting their families", says Samad.

Correction: An earlier version of this story identified Hawthorne as the location of the FAA office.

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