WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -- The Federal Aviation Administration says it has brought about 500 furloughed safety inspectors back to work and expects more to return next week, potentially easing strains on the aviation system amid a partial federal government shutdown.
Most of the FAA's 3,000 safety inspectors have been sidelined during the 22-day shutdown . But the agency is accelerating efforts to bring them back. Agency spokesman Gregory Martin didn't provide specifics in an email to the Associated Press Saturday.
Inspectors oversee and certify inspections by airline and repair-shop employees. They're not considered essential employees who must work during shutdowns.
The shutdown has hit aviation hard . About 10,000 FAA air traffic controllers are on the job but not getting paid. Some Transportation Security Administration screeners are staying home rather than work without pay.