Sunday, December 09, 2007

Consider the Consequences

Worried about air safety ? Maybe you ought to be.

Authorities investigate near miss at Newark Airport

”The incident came one day after a report from the Government Accountability Office which criticized the FAA for not doing more to curb so-called incursions. An uncoordianted runway safety system and "the absence of national leadership" leave the nation's airports vulnerable to potential disaster, the report said. “

There is one thing -- in a different article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- that I want you to save. Seriously. I don’t know how Windows users would do it, but for the Apple users, copy and paste this into a “stickies” note and leave it on your desktop.

Investigators: Public at "high risk" of runway accidents

”"We are operating in one of the safest periods of aviation history," said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman in the agency's Atlanta regional office. "Whenever an incident occurs we investigate it thoroughly and take corrective action." “

Right up front, I want to say I bear Ms. Bergen no ill will. She’s just doing her job. However, she hasn’t a clue about investigating any “incident”. She only knows what she is told and I assure you, she isn’t told a lot of things about what happens in the field, including numerous “incidents.”

I merely wish to point out this: Ms. Bergen and her superiors will suffer few -- if any -- consequences when “one of the safest periods of aviation history” comes crashing to an end. The folks at FAA headquarters will feel bad, of course, and they will express their condolences to the families of those lost. They will assure you that everything is being done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the organizational chart, there will be one hapless controller whose life will be changed forever. He (or she) will suffer some very personal consequences -- consequences that will last for the rest of their life. Every controller in the country knows that the next major accident might have their name on it. If they are unlucky enough to draw the straw that breaks the camel’s back, it will be their name plastered all over the press along with one question -- why did all those people die ?

That is the brutal reality controllers face -- every single day. The next time you read a story in the press, pay attention to who is speaking and consider the consequences -- for them.

Don Brown
December 9, 2007

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