Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Enough !

I’ve been good. I haven’t said a word about Michael Jackson’s death. But I’ve had enough of the news coverage. It will have been a week, tomorrow, and I’ve hardly unmuted the TV since it happened. Seriously, I haven’t listened to a word of it. Which means I’ve hardly heard any news at all in the last week. Thankfully there is the BBC. I record BBC World News America every evening and I’ve fast-forwarded through anything to do with Michael Jackson. Which has been blessedly little compared to CNN, et al.

I don’t like him. I don’t dislike him. I don’t even think about him. I simply don’t care. I do care about keeping up with what is going on so I would appreciate it if the TV media would move on. Enough !

In other news, NATCA is in the middle of an election. If they survive that long. Most of the contract negotiations are done with some of the biggest articles going to mediation. I’m not really staying up on either one but The FAA Follies and The Main Bang are if you want details. You would need a scorecard to keep up with all the games that are being played. While entertaining, what matters is results. There haven’t been any winners in this war between the FAA and controllers. Just lots of casualties.

In a sign that things aren’t going to get any better anytime soon, the FAA announced that Rick Ducharme was being made Vice President of En Route and Oceanic Services. He’s been “acting” VP for some time. The selection is now being made permanent. I don’t know a thing about the guy -- except that he seems to be universally despised by the Terminal controllers. That and the fact that he doesn’t have any Enroute experience. Sounds like a perfect candidate for FAA management.

I know that the subtlety will escape some of the non-controllers out there so let me use another of my imperfect analogies: A bone doctor is running the brain surgery unit.

Mr. Ducharme’s “thank you” in the press release is telling:

”“I appreciate Hank and Rick giving me the opportunity." “

That would be Hank Krakowski -- Chief Operation Officer, Air Traffic Organization and Rick Day -- Senior VP, Operations, Air Traffic Organization. That would be the same guys that were in charge during Marion Blakey’s reign. (BTW, check out what she’s up to today.) Mr. Ducharme left the new FAA Administrator, Randy Babbitt, off the thank you list. Again, I don’t know what kind of games might have been played but I do know the result. It’s Mr. Babbitt’s watch and this move will be about as popular as a NMAC (Near Mid Air Collision) is with controllers. We’ve all heard the terms “pilot error” and “controller error”. It’s time for a new one: Administrator error. Welcome to the new FAA, Mr. Babbitt. It’s the same as the old FAA.

Don Brown
July 1, 2009

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