Sunday, January 21, 2007

You’re Not Gonna Believe This...

Whenever I tell people stuff like this about my former employer, they just look at me with that “Now, what is he really up to ?” look. I guess that is a healthy attitude. As a matter of fact, it’s hard not to be cynical in today’s world. My previous post is a glaring example.

But I’m not up to anything sneaky. You can’t get any more straight forward than this. You’re just not going to believe it. You’ve heard of “too good to be true” ? Well, this is too stupid to be true. But it is. Check out this story from the Orlando Sentinel.

FAA: No weather radios in tower

On Christmas Day, a tornado almost took out the Daytona Beach Air Traffic Control Tower. It did take out the flight school across the runway. The controllers, blinded by the blowing rain against the Tower windows, never knew the tornado was out there.

The public relations department at the National Air Traffic Controllers Association made minced meat out of the FAA on the issue. Removing the radios (just a regular radio like you listen to where you work) from the Towers was part of the stupid and vindictive “Imposed Work Rules” the FAA came up with when the Bush administration decided it didn’t have to negotiate, follow any moral standard, obey any law or abide by the Constitution.

The FAA, realizing how stupid they looked, tried to blame their subordinates and claimed they never banned weather radios -- they just banned radios playing music. (Side note: In 25 years I’ve never visited a Tower that didn’t have a radio playing in the background.) NATCA knew this was a lie and had the documentation to back it up. But what’s a lie between you and your government ? Especially on an issue that is this stupid ?

Anyway, the local Daytona manager goes out and buys two weather radios -- the kind that broadcast nothing but severe weather alerts. And in what can only be termed stupidity squared, the FAA national office stood up, said they were right the first time and banned even the weather radios.

Unbelievable.

I wish I could tell you exactly how many times I wound up in this situation with the FAA during my career. How do you argue with stupidity ? We’re arguing about whether or not it’s a good idea for air traffic controllers to know there is a tornado headed towards them. WHY ?

Please don’t think that everybody -- or even every manager -- in the FAA is stupid. They aren’t. It’s just that the stupid ones are currently in charge.

Don Brown
January 21, 2007

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