Sunday, January 06, 2008

FAA History Lesson -- January 6

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

”Jan 6, 1994: DOT, FAA, and the Council of Economic Advisors held a press conference to unveil the Clinton Administration's plan to revitalize the aviation industry. The plan entailed action on most recommendations of the National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry (see Apr 7, 1993). Included were efforts to move ahead with conversion of FAA’s air traffic control function to a government corporation (see Sep 7, 1993, and May 3, 1994). Other elements of the plan aimed at: bankruptcy reform; increased foreign investment in U.S. carriers, contingent on reciprocal opportunities; encouragement of new entrant carriers; heightened scrutiny of airline financial fitness; and promotion of employee ownership of airlines. “

That’s right, sports fans...the move to privatize (or corporatize if you prefer) the FAA began under a Democratic President. It’s interesting to hear the “vast, right-wing conspiracy” call Bill Clinton a liberal. He wasn’t. He was a middle-of-the-road (if not conservative) Democrat.

I often think about who my “target audience” is for this blog. That term is probably too commercial for my way of thinking but that doesn’t mean it can’t be useful. I don’t want to limit myself, but if I had to pick, it is my sincere hope that there is at least one bright, young controller out there that is thinking about the future. One that can really think. One that can cut through the clutter, see past current events and the “conventional wisdom” to see a clear path into the future.

Chance does indeed favor the prepared mind. Just by chance, I was having dinner with some friends of mine last night and retrieved a book my friend had borrowed quite some time ago. The book is The Commanding Heights by Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw. It is a difficult book. It is almost beyond my intellectual capabilities. I almost stopped reading it -- and then I got to the chapter entitled, “The Birth of Privatization.” That got my attention and I decided I’d just have to try and think a little harder.

It was chance that I even bought the book much less finished it. It was chance that I retrieved it last night -- before I searched through the FAA’s history to see what happened today. Hopefully, there’s a chance some bright, young kid will take note of it, take the time to read it and maybe -- just maybe -- be in a position to use that insight to further the profession of air traffic control one day.

Don Brown
January 6, 2008

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