The Federal Aviation Administration says it has brought about 500 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.
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.
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