Sunday, July 01, 2007

FAA History Lesson -- Star Date Unknown

From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996...

”Jun 1956: The first radar in a CAA program to "circular polarize" airport surveillance was completed at La Guardia Airport. The modification program would permit the radar to "see" aircraft passing through rain and snow. With the unmodified equipment, aircraft operating in storm areas often failed to show on the scope. “

Good old New York. Except for the very earliest days, they’ve always been at the forefront of aviation news. Unfortunately, a lot of it is bad news. But right now, in this period in time, all eyes are in the middle of nowhere -- focused on an area that most citizens still never think about. Enroute Air Traffic Control.

”Spring, 1956: The Senate Aviation Subcommittee, chaired by A. S. "Mike" Monroney (D-Okla.), held hearings relating to the resignation under fire of CAA Administrator Frederick Lee (see Dec 8, 1955) and to the larger allegation of the neglect of CAA by the Department of Commerce. “

Every controller has heard the name “Monroney.” It’s the name of the FAA Academy in -- where else ? -- Oklahoma. You’ll hear the name again.

”Fall, 2007: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, chaired by James Oberstar (D-MN), held hearings relating to the tenure of FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and to the larger allegation of _________.”

So many choices. So little time. In case you’ve never heard of Congressman Oberstar, he’s known as “Mr. Aviation” in the House. He was previously Chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation and something else that might come in handy -- Investigations and Oversight.

Stepping way above my thinking level, I’m betting Congressman Oberstar spends more time on fixing the FAA than on detailing all the missteps of the current administration. Historians can do the latter. Only Congress can do the former.

It will be a close call I think. There comes a point where malfeasance rises to the level that it must be brought to light and dealt with. I know many think this Administration passed that point awhile ago. I wouldn’t argue the point. But the fundamental problems at the FAA still remain. Do you spend your time shining a spotlight on the past or do you use it to look ahead and find your way out of this mess ?

I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision and I don’t envy Chairman Oberstar his task. But I’m glad someone of his caliber is in a position to make those decisions.

Don Brown
July 1, 2007

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