Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sneak Attack

"It's not as though it sneaked up on anybody," she said.”

“She” would be Marion Blakey, the current FAA Administrator, talking about the the upcoming deadline for reauthorizing the FAA. You can read it for yourself in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The quote is terribly ironic for air traffic controllers. It’s exactly what we’ve said about FAA in regards to the current controller staffing crisis.


Statement by National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr on Congressional Action on Air Traffic Controller Staffing:

...”While it is good news that Congress has given the FAA new money to hire and train controllers, considerably more resources will be needed if FAA is to address the serious staffing crisis facing our nation. Many of our critical air traffic control facilities across the country are already short-staffed. And the FAA administrator herself has said that we are looking at a 'tsunami wave of retirements.'"

It hasn’t exactly snuck up on anybody has it ? The FAA has known they would face a “tsunami wave of retirements” for 25 years and yet they failed to act. If you’re not involved in aviation, you might think that this situation can’t get any worse. It can. And it will.

2 planes that nearly collided at LAX were only 37 feet apart, report says

FAA: Delta, United planes nearly collide in Florida

La Guardia Near-Crash Is One of a Rising Number

Anybody that is in the ATC safety business knows that all these incidents (there are more) aren’t just a string of bad luck. It’s a pattern -- a very scary pattern. The pilots are scared, the airlines are scared, the controllers are scared and the NTSB is scared. Even the FAA is scared.

Watch this video and you will be too.

The problem the FAA has is the same problem the Titanic had. By the time you see the iceberg, there’s not enough time left to turn the ship. You don’t retrain thousands of controllers and pilots on procedures that should have -- arguably -- been put into place a few years ago, overnight. We probably wouldn’t need the new procedures if we had enough controllers. If hundreds of senior controllers weren’t retiring. If we didn’t let the airlines over schedule the airports. If we hadn’t let the airlines run roughshod over their pilots and other workers. If we hadn’t deregulated the airlines.

But we didn’t do all that did we ?

There is something out there -- waiting -- that is a lot worse than airline delays. It used to be my job to think about the unthinkable. 37 feet is about as close as you ever want to get to the unthinkable.

“It's not as though it sneaked up on anybody."

Don Brown
August 30, 2007

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