Saturday, December 06, 2008

Priorities



It’s been awhile since I dove into the FAA’s history book but the recent ground breaking of the FAA’s new Air Traffic Control System Command Center got me thinking. How old is the current Command Center ?

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

”Apr 15, 1994: FAA’s Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC) officially began operations in its new facility at Herndon, Va. The ATCSCC had moved from FAA Headquarters because of size and technological constraints (see Apr 27, 1970). “

Fourteen years old. Hmmm. Let’s compare that with your average Air Route Traffic Control Center.

”Oct 9, 1960: FAA commissioned the Oakland air traffic control center's new building, followed by the Atlanta center's new building on Oct 15. “

So the FAA replaces the one building that is 14 years old instead of the 20 buildings that are 48 (or so) years old. I see the FAA still has its priorities. And they’re still wrong.

You may have noticed a lot of talk in the Press about rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. Without delving too far into the economics of it all, the Government needs to get money into the economy to stave off a Depression and it needs to do it fast. We don’t want to just throw the money away (kind of like they’re doing with the banking industry), we want to have something to show for it. What we need is what Paul Krugman refers to in this blog as “shovel-ready” projects.

I bet the FAA doesn’t have any “shovel-ready” plans for replacing their main operations buildings -- the ARTCCs -- that are almost 50 years old. They do (obviously) have a plan to replace their Taj Mahal.

I hope all this makes you curious as to why a lame-duck President, that seems to have withdrawn from the limelight, decided to sign an executive order rushing NextGen out the door with only two months left in his term.

Don Brown
December 6, 2008

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