Monday, October 19, 2009

Gambling in New Jersey

There was a most interesting article at about the FAA. As all FAA employees know, Atlantic City is home to the William J. Hughes Technical Center. It a nutshell, the FAA is looking to expand the Technical Center into NextGen. Along with all the contractors, of course.

Thousands of jobs linked to NextGen air traffic site in Atlantic County

”The federal government is prepared to spend more than $15 billion to overhaul the nation's air traffic control system, essentially building an "Internet in the air" to replace a costly and inefficient ground-based system.

And that could translate into creating at least 2,000 high-paying private industry engineering and technical jobs at the Next Generation Aviation Research and Technology Park, a new research center that is being developed on a 55-acre wooded parcel near the Federal Aviation Administration's William J. Hughes Technical Center and the Atlantic City International Airport in Egg Harbor Township.“

The local Congressman, Representative Frank LoBiondo, is only too willing to take the credit for much of this. And who knows ? He might deserve the credit. But in the article, he says something that I find absolutely stunning and I want to make sure you catch it.

”The nation is not building airports. We're not building runways. We're going to have a way to safely move larger numbers of people from point A to point B. The decision was made the NextGen project will be the way to get that done. The eyes of the nation and the world will be on us," U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd said.“

On one hand, the FAA tells the public that passenger travel is expected to double (triple !) in the coming years. Now, the good Congressman tells us that we aren’t building runways. We’ll just have to figure out how to move more people around without them. The obvious answer is bigger planes. But as we all know now, the bigger the plane, the greater the wake turbulence. So that idea has its limitations too. But NextGen is somehow going to overcome these physical limitations with computer power and pixie dust. Some NextGen technologies hold promise but all of them put together won’t allow us to double the number of passengers carried. You have to wonder of the Congressman really believes they will.

I’ll let you read the article without much more comment. It’s a fascinating look at the process of generating jobs. I hope some of the younger controllers will notice how much money and power is floating around in this deal. It’s a good thing to remember when you’re at the negotiating table.

It’s also a good thing to remember when you consider the future of your career. A lot of these people will be determining how you do you job in the future. Many (most ?) won’t have ever sat in a controller’s chair. They won’t have a clue about your job. Of the ones that have been controllers, most of them won’t have been one for long. You can change that. Or you can let the “just let me do my eight and go home” crowd define your profession. Just something to think about.

And one last thing. I think it worth noting Congressman LoBiondo’s predecessor. William J. Hughes. Yes, that William J. Hughes.

”The FAA Technical Center in southern New Jersey was renamed to the William J. Hughes Technical Center in his honor.“

Don Brown
October 19, 2009


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