Friday, January 08, 2010

Don’t Mess With Texas

This story slipped under my radar. New Braunfels Municipal Airport, is 30 miles northeast of San Antonio, TX. I know that because -- believe it or not -- this isn’t the first time New Braunfels has made an appearance at Get the Flick.

Leadership problem revealed at airport

”A letter to the city from Ed Mears, a regional representative of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and a Georgetown-based employee of Robinson Aviation, claimed the New Braunfels airport control tower was dangerously understaffed. He wrote that New Braunfels controllers work long hours with no room for breaks, lunch, vacation or sick days.”

I’ve known of Ed Mears (I’m not sure we’ve ever met) for years and years and years. When he says you have a problem -- you have a problem. Actually, if Ed says you have a problem you have two problems. Your original problem and, now, Ed.

”The newspaper wanted to know — were these claims a concern? And what is being done to remedy the problem? Instead of an answer, there was only finger pointing.

Neither the Federal Aviation Administration, the City of New Braunfels nor Robinson Aviation, who has a contract to staff the air control tower, would claim responsibility for determining the appropriate level of staffing in the air control tower.”

See what I mean ? New Braunfels Municipal Airport has a problem. Instead of fixing it -- like so many entities -- they just made it worse.

”No one took responsibility — each pointing to the other for accountability.

The only action taken this past week was the termination of Clinton Kidwell, New Braunfels airport air control tower manager, in his words for suggesting that the low level of staffing represented a possible safety concern.

“I shed a light on it, and they fired me,” Kidwell said.”

Now New Braunfels Municipal Airport has a lot of problems. The newspaper, Ed Mears, Clinton Kidwell, me... Oh yeah, it looks like they’re even more understaffed now. This was in the paper just a couple of weeks earlier.

”Officials with the City and Robinson Aviation said there are no standards for air control staffing for airports that are not federally regulated.

However, said City Manager Mike Morrison, “We do not run an airport in an unsafe fashion.”

“There’s no standard, but if you need extra help there’s a tower manager to help,” said Airport Director Vinicio “Lenny” Llerena.“

If the controllers “need extra help” now what do they do, Lenny ? Over.

Don Brown
January 8, 2010


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