Saturday, March 21, 2009

More Halaby

I didn’t really get to everything I wanted to cover yesterday so I thought I would cover it today. Blogging really is nice -- being able to write about whatever hits you and on your own schedule.

As I pointed out yesterday, Halaby objected to controllers being able to organize. And then he claimed to have been justified when PATCO started running slowdowns. It’s like saying, “I told you the galley slaves would revolt if we gave up our swords.” Evidently, giving up on mistreating their workers never crossed their minds.

”...we still didn’t make enough progress to satisfy either myself or the controllers, who had to run what we gave them. “

”The controllers kept hearing about all the wonderful technical improvements just over the horizon, but they never saw any actually being put into service.“

Much of the section on controllers can be summed up in two words: Yeah and But.

”It is only too true that in major towers at peak periods, controllers are under great stress. But... “

”The wasn’t any doubt that controller workload could be excessive in peak hours at major centers. But... “

After Halaby left, PATCO starting getting its act together.

Eventually the ATCA faded, and it was the PATCO that pulled the horrendous slowdowns and work stoppages that almost brought civil air transportation to a halt in the summer of 1968. (If you didn’t look yesterday, ATCA did “fade”. Take a look at the board. You’ll see a lot of ex-FAA managers that now work for the biggest contractors in ATC.)

For those that don’t remember 1968, I don’t think anything good happened in the entire U.S. during ‘68. It was an ugly year. Vietnam was in full swing with Khe San and the Tet offensive. My Lai. MLK was shot. Bobby Kennedy was killed too. There were riots in Chicago during the Democratic Party Convention. Nixon was nominated for President. Elvis made a comeback.

”Actually, the number of controllers involved was relatively small, but in so complex a system, a platoon of dissidents amounts o a whole division. Airline on-time performance dropped from over 90 per cent to less than 50 per cent, due solely to air-traffic delays.“ (Note: PATCO’s “choir boys” are history worth knowing.)

Hmmm, that’s interesting. An admittedly outdated system with a 90% on-time performance rate. This is just the first article I found for a quick reference to today.

”The DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics said the 19 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 77 percent in January, an improvement over both January 2008's 72.4 percent and December 2008's 65.3 percent.“

I guess that’s enough for today. I read Crosswinds to get a sense of the air traffic system back then. I’d forgotten that Mr. Halaby went on to run Pan Am. That section of the book -- and what it told me of the airline industry -- was almost as interesting. I’ll try to get some comments about it up soon.

Don Brown
March 21, 2009

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