Gov't asks FAA safety inspectors for a big no-interest loan's Christopher Maag has a good piece about the effect of the budget debacle on FAA safety inspectors.

About 40 inspectors are responsible for checking everything safety-related at the nation's busiest airports. They inspect everything from cracks in the runway to whether safety lights are working and fire trucks are ready to go… But the agency's leaders have asked the inspectors to continue working without pay… the agency has asked the inspectors to charge their expenses to their own personal cards, to be reimbursed later.

That may work for a while, Oswald says. But the F.A.A.'s budget crisis cannot be resolved for at least another six weeks, when Congress returns from its summer recess. Will safety inspectors really be able to afford to continue wracking up such big credit card bills for such a long time?

The Federal Aviation Administration has been operating on a temporary budget for over three years because Congress has consistently failed to pass a permanent one. Instead, the agency has been running on what are called "continuing resolutions," which allow the agency to continue operating by extending its old budget.

The last continuing resolution expired Tuesday. With that expiration, the F.A.A. lost its ability to charge the 7.5% tax on airline tickets, which funds most of the agency's functions. That means the agency is losing $200 million a week, according to the American Association of Airport Executives, money that is normally used to pay safety inspectors and improve airport facilities.

The agency also lost its ability to write checks or pay its credit card bills. Which leaves the inspectors to pay their own expenses.

Gov't asks FAA safety inspectors for a big no-interest loan