Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lost in the Excitement

Two stories were lost in all the excitement of the FTI- inspired NADIN outage this week.

Lockheed announces FSS consolidations

”Beginning in February, Lockheed will close its locations in Columbia, Mo.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Kankakee, Ill.; Lansing, Mich.; Nashville, Tenn.; Seattle, Wash., and St. Petersburg, Fla.

This is the second consolidation effort since the company was awarded a contract in 2005 to provide flight services for the FAA. “

I’d love to quote some other source besides AOPA (AOPA supported this disaster) but the major media outlets totally ignored this news. Several local news outlets covered the story but it seems they lacked the knowledge necessary to challenge even the most outrageous statements by Lockheed.

”Corporate representative Jan Gottfredsen said the decision will affect 28 workers in Nashville and was made due to a 13 percent decrease in call volume to the flight services facilities. “

Call volume tends to decrease when you don’t answer the phone. Not to mention the inferior service tends to lose customers. (Remember, the following is from AOPA, the guys that supported contracting out this service to Lockheed.)

”June 6, 2007 — AOPA meets with DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovel and his staff office to once again detail member problems with the flight service station. For nearly two hours, AOPA laid out the problems with long hold times, dropped calls, lost flight plans, inexperienced briefers, and failure to supply critical information such as TFRs. AOPA also shared the results of a recent member AFSS survey. “

Moving on. The second story didn’t even make it into any media (as far as I can tell.) You can do your own search if you like. Search for ERAM -- En Route Automation Modernization. Of course, there may not be a story at all. It may have just been a coincidence that ERAM was being tested on the Wednesday night/Thursday morning mid shift and FTI brought down NADIN at 5 AM on Thursday morning.

Just because Salt Lake Center is where the ERAM installation is being tested doesn’t mean it has anything to do with the NADIN facility at Salt Lake failing. Seriously.

Yes, I am messing with the media. I don’t have any idea if one thing had anything to do with the other. But, even though I’m retired, I’m still plugged into the system enough to know I wasn’t the only one that wondered about it.

If ERAM has half the problems FTI has had, it will get really ugly. So far, things aren’t looking good. ERAM is enormously complex. Even with everybody fully committed to the program it would be one of the most difficult programs the FAA has ever undertaken.

But everyone isn’t on board. The last Administration -- Marion Blakey’s gang -- cut NATCA out of the program. I assume the current Administration is going to try and bring NATCA (and their member’s expertise) back on board. That will be interesting. I’m not sure which will be more difficult -- healing the damage Blakey inflicted on the controllers or making ERAM work. Too bad the FAA will have to do both. At the same time.

Don Brown
November 22, 2009

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