Surprised ? I’m Not

You know, if the powers that be at the FAA had earned an ounce of respect in the last decade or so, I would have let this story pass. After all, it’s inconclusive (so far) and it’s out of my area of interest. But they haven’t. And I didn’t.

”The May 2nd event seems to have been marred by the fact that two FAA Inspectors from the BHM FSDO showed and reportedly ramp-checked each and every involved aircraft while the event was running... That's 6 fixed wing airplanes and two helicopters, including a Citation 550, who were reportedly "ramped." According to several pilots who assert they witnessed the events in question, some aircraft were told to shut down after children had already been loaded in the aircraft and engines were started... leaving the kids, many of whom are dealing with severe or terminal illness (some bound to wheelchairs), simmering in the hot cabins while the Feds conducted the checks.“

You can read the whole story at

If I harbor this kind of ill will towards the FAA -- retired and living a life so good I actually feel guilty -- can you imagine the ill will that exists within the controller ranks ? You know, the guys and girls that had their pay frozen or cut ? The ones working the 6 day weeks -- month after grueling month ? The ones trying to keep their ulcers and blood pressure under control while they try to do their jobs -- working around the multitude of trainees and the inevitable mistakes that trainees make ? The ones living with the childish dress code and ban on dining out ?

If you can imagine -- just for an instant -- the seething anger that exists in the air traffic control workforce, you might begin to understand how tough the job facing the next Administrator truly is. Even if you believe every piece of the NextGen concept will work flawlessly, these are the human beings that will be responsible for operating it. The technical challenges of funding and implementing NextGen are immense. And they look easy when compared to healing the rift between the FAA management and its workforce.

Don Brown
May 6, 2009


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