ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Some local employees are concerned the partial shutdown of the federal government could affect safety when it comes to air travel.
Air traffic controllers are still on the job but their support staff is not. They are among those furloughed, and they are pretty important to your safety.
Some of those people work in quality control and information technology.
They help ensure computer programs and equipment air traffic controllers depend on continues to work. Now they're not there to respond immediately.
On the outside, it looks like business as usual at the Albuquerque Sunport, but air traffic controllers working on the inside say it's anything but.
“This system cannot effectively operate for any length of time without its support staff,” said Andreas Sanchez, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association at the Albuquerque Tower.
Yet that is exactly what it is expected to do.
Sanchez said 30 of the union’s employees in Albuquerque have been furloughed because of the federal government shutdown.
There is no longer an IT worker on hand if problems arise with computer programs. They rely on those programs to log aircraft locations and traffic numbers, Sanchez said.
And technicians who handle radar and radio issues aren't working nights or weekends.
That is risky, Sanchez said.
“We work planes day and night, 24 hours a day,” he said. “That equipment has to work 24 hours a day. So any time, even the one time that it goes down, it's important.”
Sanchez also said the shutdown means no training for new employees—a major concern considering 40 percent of workers at his facility are eligible to retire.
“The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is urging Congress to stop the shutdown immediately and get all federal employees back to work,” Sanchez said.
There are 36 air traffic controllers working at the Albuquerque Tower, who now are also helping make up for five furloughed employees, Sanchez said.
Another 25 were furloughed at a local air route traffic control center.
Nationally more than 15,000 federal aviation administration employees were furloughed. That is one-third of FAA’s workforce.
Deputies were led on a chase around 4 p.m. Monday after a person called 911 to report their vehicle had been stolen and was being driven recklessly around Albuquerque.
New Mexico could have hundreds of millions of dollars more to spend as legislators get ready to put together next year's budget in the upcoming legislative session.
Organizers of the Gildan New Mexico Bowl are hoping to shed the disappointing attendance numbers that weighed down the event last year when the Colorado State Rams and the Washington State Cougars face off Dec. 21.
It appears there's a temporary fix for the quickly dwindling lottery scholarship program.
A San Juan County man has been arrested for his sixth DWI by the same officer who's arrested him before.
A police shooting was avoided in this weekend in Clovis after officers came face to face with an armed man.