Shutdown threatens Washington aerospace jobs

The partial shutdown of the federal government is threatening aerospace jobs in Washington, an Everett company says. Aviation Technical Services, the locally owned maintenance, repair and overhaul company based at Paine Field, might have to lay off 80 newly hired workers in Moses Lake because the Federal Aviation Administration cannot process routine paperwork.

The situation is somewhat similar to what’s been reported about the billions of dollars’ worth of new airplanes that can’t be delivered to airlines. Manufacturers await registration documents from an FAA office where workers are on furlough.

In the case of ATS, it’s a form the company must file with the agency for every airplane it works on at a new satellite facility at Grant County Airport in Moses Lake. ATS can fax the form to the FAA, CEO Matt Yerbic told us, but unless it receives confirmation in return, it can’t work on the airplane in question.

“If I cant find a solution to this, I’m going to have to lay 80 people off and find another way to accommodate a new customer,” Yerbic said.

ATS just signed a deal with Air Canada for work on 17 Boeing 767s at Moses Lake in coming months, Yerbic said. The 80 people there are mostly mechanics. ATS had planned to employ up to 200 people in Grant County by about this time next year. The company has 1,200 workers in all, making it the second-biggest aerospace firm in Washington.

The FAA is sympathetic but hamstrung, Yerbic said. The agency workforce has been reduced to people whose duties ensure safety of flight.

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