Sunday, February 28, 2010
I don’t know if y’all can appreciate the sense of humor Robert Reich has but the man did entitle one of his books, I'll Be Short:...
By the way, he really is a seriously smart man. Check out his latest blog.
February 28, 2010
Just in case it slipped your mind, tomorrow (March 1, 2010) is a big day. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will be closing runway 31L-13R at JFK for paving and renovation. It should be an interesting lesson in airport capacity. If you’ll read the linked article, you’ll see it is already proving to be a lesson in economics.
”Passengers using JFK also face another headache — higher ticket prices. JetBlue, American, Delta and other airlines have cut their schedules by about 10 percent for the shutdown period. They can raise prices because there will be a smaller number of seats to meet demand. “
Here’s another interesting factoid from the article.
”Steve Abraham says he and his fellow JFK air traffic controllers must learn how to move aircraft efficiently without the use of their biggest runway. That could add more time to takeoffs and landing, at least initially. Fifty percent of the controllers at JFK have less than 4 years of experience. “
It gives a whole new meaning to “on-the-job training” doesn’t it ?
Speaking of which (switch gears with me now), the folks at Salt Lake Center have been gaining some “experience” of their own. Apparently, there was a major crash of the new ERAM system on February 23rd. There’s not much news leaking out about it -- which is curious. Good thing there’s a union to tell you about it. Or at least a union member. Checks and Balances ? Check.
I suspect all the major players are trying to focus attention on the “Big Picture”. NATCA is pushing for movement on S-1451 -- FAA Reauthorization.
By the way, did you know the French controllers have been on strike for 5 days ? It didn’t change history. Nobody got fired (that I know about.) And it didn’t destroy the profession. Ho hum.
February 28, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Again, we nibble around the edges of our problems.
Senate demands that FAA make reforms in the way pilots commute to work
”Seventy percent of the pilots based at Newark for Colgan Air Inc. -- the regional carrier that operated the flight for Continental Airlines -- commuted from other cities, and 20 percent commuted from more than 1,000 miles away, an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found. “
Do you ever wonder what the difference is between the airline business of today and the airline business back when Pan Am, Eastern, Southern, Republic and Western will all in business ? I mean, besides deregulation ?
I dare you to read this list, look at the dates and think.
Braniff International Airways (1928 - 1982)
Capitol Airways (1946 - 1982)
Eastern Air Lines (1926 - 1991)
Frontier Airlines (1950 - 1986)
National Airlines (1929 - 1980, to Pan American World Airways)
North Central Airlines (1939 - 1979, to Southern Airways)
Northwest Airlines (1927 - 2010, to Delta Air Lines)
Ozark Airlines (1943 - 1986, to Trans World Airlines)
Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) (1945 - 1987, to USAir)
Pan American World Airways (1927 - 1991)
Piedmont Airlines (1940 - 1989, to USAir)
Reeve Aleutian Airways (1932 - 2001)
Southern Airways (1943 - 1979, to Republic Airlines)
Texas International Airlines (1944 - 1986, to Continental Airlines)
Trans World Airlines (1930 - 2001, to American Airlines)
Western Airlines (1925 - 1987, to Delta Air Lines)
Airlines that were in business for 30, 40, 50 years or more were ruined. The list tells more than that single story. Look at how many airlines started after deregulation and didn’t survive. Every single one of them took a little piece of a healthy airline with them. It is madness. Yet we continue.
Regulation wasn’t perfect. But at least people could make a living in the industry. And the industry could survive.
February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Sorry that my postings have been somewhat erratic of late. It seems as if life got in the way.
I used to be a pretty good photographer before digital and kids came along. I’ve been trying to relearn the craft with a digital camera -- now that the kids are grown. I could draw some serious parallels between a camera’s computer interface and a controller’s computer interface. But I’ll just let Jim Reekes speak for me on this one.
On the other hand, not having to pay for film -- or processing -- is pretty cool.
I’m sure when the summer heat comes around I’ll be spending more time inside. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the fact that winters in Georgia are pretty awesome.
February 25, 2010
For the non-aviators, NRP is the National Route Program the FAA came up with to keep the airlines happy. If I was a real writer, I could come up with catchy phrase like “security theater” to describe this nonsense. It’s the same thing. NRP is a lot of to-do-about-nothing.
And “DM” over at NAS Confusion has the proof. He has pictures and everything, so click on the link.
February 25, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Again and again. How does Paul Krugman tackle such huge issues, within such limited space and with such clarity ?
You have to read this one.
The Bankruptcy Boys
”Voters may say that they oppose big government, but the programs that actually dominate federal spending — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — are very popular.“
February 23, 2010
Whatever unkind thoughts I’ve had about James Fallows after he goes all wonky about computers are now forgotten. That’s because he has shown me the most useful, snarky, internet trick I’ve seen in years.
Let Me Google That For You
We all have friends that can’t seem to use the internet -- except for email. It doesn’t matter how many times you send them to Snopes.com -- they can’t seem to remember it or bookmark it. And no matter how many times you tell them to stop reading email trash from their “friends”, they still want you to check out the latest “Barack Obama is a Muslim” lie for them.
Let Me Google That For You is tailor made for this situation.
Click and learn.
February 23, 2010
I was doing some research yesterday and I came across this tidbit at Wikinvest.
”The 2008 Financial Crisis and Ensuing Recession Reduce Demand for Electricity - as well as Costs for Electricity Production
“In the fourth quarter of 2008, the U.S. economy contracted at a 3.8% annualized rate (5.1%, excluding inventory buildup) according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.”
“For the first time since 1945, the end of the Second World War, the International Energy Agency has forecasted that world electricity demand will fall 3.5% as a result of the global recession.“
Just in case you needed another reminder of how bad this recession is.
At least it’s bad for some of us. (Disclaimer: It isn’t bad for me. For my children and most of America, it’s a different story.) To get an idea about who is hurting -- and who isn’t -- I’d recommend this post from The Earth-bound Misfit.
February 23, 2010
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a level-headed report about the state of unions in America. I liked this line the best:
”2. Unions are bad for economic growth.
Economists on the left and the right can debate this one for days. The pro-labor side has a strong argument: The period of highest union penetration, from the 1940s to the '70s, was also a period of sustained economic growth. “
And at the risk of taking the spotlight off unions, it was a period of high taxes too. Well, at least on the people with high incomes. Neither fact fits into the Conservative narrative, which -- in my book -- makes the narrative fiction.
Enjoy the article.
Five myths about the labor union movement
February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
My friend and fellow controller, Chuck Adams, posted a a quote yesterday that got me thinking. It might become famous. It should become famous. But first, let me “bookend” it with another quote that is famous -- and should become infamous:
”In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem."
January. 20, 1981
So began the era of Reaganism. Down with government, up with business and let the “Free Market” reign. Admittedly, it was a heck of a ride. The Cold War ended. Even the Democrats -- under Bill Clinton -- mouthed the words that the era of “Big Government” was dead. Wall Street threw a heck of a party. A lot of people got rich. But Reaganism -- and the party -- ended in 2008. By December of 2008, even the Cheerleader-in-Chief had to capitulate.
"I've abandoned free market principles to save the free market system."
George W. Bush
Dec. 16, 2008
When you review the record of deregulation, I can’t figure out where all the Depression-era wisdom was hiding. Is there no one left that is old enough to say, “We told you so” ? “We tried to warn you” ?
The Warning on Frontline piqued my curiosity. I bet there were others. I think we need to figure out a way -- an effective way -- to warn the next generation. Greed never goes out of style. If we could forget the lessons of The Great Depression it will be that much easier for our children to forget the lessons of The Great Recession.
February 22, 2010
Most people in aviation are aware of the hobby “plane spotting”. Here’s a curious case from India.
Detained for 'spotting' planes, Britons booked
”NEW DELHI: A week after two British nationals were detained for allegedly recording the conversation between pilots and Air Traffic Control (ATC), the south Delhi police on Sunday booked the two "plane spotters" under the Telegraph Act.“
I can’t imagine what is going on in India but since plane spotters helped the media figure out what was going on with “extraordinary renditions”, I’m guessing governments are a little more nervous about the hobby.
It’s been said that only 10% of the world’s cargo goes by air. But that 10% represents 90% of the value of world’s cargo. I suspect the same could be said of people in non-airline airplanes. The high-priority, rich, powerful and/or connected fly in private or military airplanes.
February 22, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
You know, I read the same story from Abilene and just gave it a pass. I should have known better. And I’ve seen how local people can reach out and touch national politicians first hand. But I didn’t think to write this blog. Fortunately, Praxis Foundation is on the job. If you’ve got any connection to the Abilene airport at all, make sure the city’s Director of Aviation sees this.
Airport Directors and Economic Development
February 20, 2010
Yes, I plan on commenting about the suicide pilot at Austin. I’m just cooling down to make sure I get it right.
Until then, you can watch Rachel Maddow’s take on the subject if you’d like. She’s about got it right.
February 20, 2010
The Daily Beast has a listing of “The Left's Top 25 Journalists”.
Guess who is #1 ? Here’s a hint. He’s the smartest man on TV. I’d feel bad that he isn’t really a journalist except I agree with him and #2 isn’t a journalist either. But my readers will recognize him too.
February 20, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
There is spin -- and there are facts. History -- slowly but surely -- washes away the spin and leaves us with the facts. The emotions, the clamor and the confusion get left behind as the facts become known and the truth emerges.
”Just look at the outside evaluations of the stimulus. Perhaps the best-known economic research firms are IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s Economy.com. They all estimate that the bill has added 1.6 million to 1.8 million jobs so far and that its ultimate impact will be roughly 2.5 million jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, considers these estimates to be conservative.“
That’s the word from David Leonhardt in his article “Judging Stimulus by Job Data Reveals Success“ in today’s New York Times.
You probably won’t ever hear that out of my Congressman. He still uses his office to spread the Republican narrative:
”Even though administration officials promised the stimulus would have an effect "almost immediately," we're still waiting.
Georgians, along with all other Americans, are asking, "Where are the jobs?"”
Congressman Westmoreland chooses spin over facts. But that’s politics. And nobody ever said politics had anything to do with the truth. I know which source I choose to believe. You can believe Lynn Westmoreland if you want. But I’d watch this first.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Better Know a District - Georgia's 8th - Lynn Westmoreland|
There’s that history thing again.
February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I mentioned a while back that I was a member of AVSIG. This is one of the reasons why..
Click here to view the video
The AVSIG guys (and girls) are really into aviation. Every aspect of it. They find stuff before most others.
February 18, 2010
I probably shouldn’t get started on this. But I’ve made mistakes before.
Controllers don’t always learn what you want them to learn. Managers think they’re teaching something specific...but the controllers are learning something all-together different. Have a look.
From the inbox
February 18, 2010
Sometimes, I feel like I spent 25 years in cave and just missed out on what was happening in the real world. I watched three extraordinary programs on PBS last night. The one that got me though -- the one that made me feel like a babe in the woods -- was Frontline: The Warning.
I will go out on a limb and say the story the program relates will blow you away too. But the thing that got me -- the thing that somehow just passed me by for a couple of decades -- is represented by this picture below.
That is a picture of President Gerald R. Ford with his economic advisor Alan Greenspan. Mr. Greenspan, of course, became the legendary Chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Wizard. The Maestro. At one time, said to be the most powerful man on Earth. Standing on Mr. Greenspan’s left is his mentor: Ayn Rand.
I had no idea. I don’t know how this piece of information escaped my notice all these years but, now, this economic fantasy we’ve been living for 30 years makes a lot more sense. If you’d like a primer on Ayn Rand, I recommend this series at WWVB.
You’re most likely familiar with the concept of the separation of Church and State. Ayn Rand believed in the separation of the State and Economics. Zero regulation. Absolute laissez-faire economics.
Like I said, everything since 1981 makes a lot more sense now. I thought these people believed in limited regulation. Like Alan Greenspan, I was wrong. They believed in no regulation.
Remember, this is just a side issue in the program The Warning. It’s a full-length show (55+ minutes) so you’ll need to set aside some time to watch it. I thought it was a great show.
I mentioned that I watched three shows. Just in case you’re curious...the other shows were Frontline: Inside the Meltdown and an episode of NOVA -- Extreme Ice. The first is about the economic meltdown. The second is about glacial meltdown. The titles aren’t the only parallels you’ll find between the two programs.
Just remember, when the world starts melting down as fast as the economy, you received “The Warning”. And just as with the warning about the economy, the people giving the warning about the climate are being marginalized by those getting rich off of the status quo.
February 18, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Hey Georgia, do you recognize anybody ?
Congressman Gingrey and Kingston passed out the pork even though they voted against it. You might remember Congressman Gingrey from his other foray into the national spotlight, where he defended the Republican leadership and then had to apologize to Rush Limbaugh for doing so.
(While you’re watching that clip, don’t fail to notice the Republicans that cosponsored the Gregg-Conrad proposal and then voted against it. If you think you’ve seen Senators Brownback, Ensign and Inhofe grouped together before that is because you have.)
But back to the Georgians. Rachel Maddow nailed a bunch of Republicans in this clip. You’ll see Congressman Jack Kingston (again) and Congressman Phil Gingrey (again) along with Congressman John Linder too. I’d encourage you to watch the whole thing (there’s a good message at the end for Democrats) but it does get tiring listening to the long, long list of Republicans voting against the stimulus package but accepting the money -- and the praise that goes along with passing out the checks. Ms. Maddow also graciously pointed out that Think Progress was documenting all this hypocrisy. Including this bit:
”Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) Asked Defense Secretary To Steer $50 Million In Stimulus Money To Georgian Bioenergy Project. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “… Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to steer $50 million in stimulus money to a constituent’s bioenergy project. Gates didn’t do it, the AP reported.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/18/09] “
This could be just a fun exercise in “I Told You So” all by itself but there is something a lot more important at work. The Federal stimulus was good policy. And as Georgia’s unemployment rate stays above 10% (if not the entire nation’s) it will become apparent that the first stimulus wasn’t big enough. If these same Republicans can’t find a way to compromise with the Obama Administration and provide more economic stimulus we are in for a long, hard slog.
Make no mistake about it, if these gentlemen want to find a way to compromise they can. Trust me, if you’re creative enough to get credit for voting against a stimulus and to take credit for handing out the checks for what you voted against you’re creative enough to find a compromise. The only question is will they.
February 15, 2010
(H/T to Frank Rich for stirring me up)
Okay, this is not what I had in mind when I sat down to write this morning but I can go with it. Head over to James Fallows’ blog at The Atlantic and read “Buzzard Strike”. It’s worth it.
February 15, 2010
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Take a moment to read this story from the Wall Street Journal. Just read it once. Don’t go back and reread it three times like I did. Just once, and then come on back.
CAA: Proposals To Reform Incentives For NERL To Reduce Delays
Now, ask yourself a few questions:
1) What was that all about ?
2) If you can’t answer #1 -- and you’re in aviation -- to whom is the story directed ?
3) If you can’t answer #2, what’s it doing in the Wall Street Journal ?
Most Curious. Maybe it makes sense in London.
”LONDON (Dow Jones)--The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority, or CAA, said Tuesday...“
February 9, 2010
Monday, February 08, 2010
I never get tired of the internet. I heard about a new ATC blog this morning with good information on ERAM. I’m trying to leave town. Now you have something to read. Go read.
ATC Freqs -- Observations of an FAA AIr Traffic Controller
I’ll keep pushing for more reports about the ongoing ERAM tests.
February 8, 2010
Here’s a very interesting news story from The New York Times. It doesn’t really need any commentary from me. It simply shows how blatant the influence of money on Washington really is.
Irked, Wall St. Hedges Its Bet on Democrats
”But this year Chase’s political action committee is sending the Democrats a pointed message. While it has contributed to some individual Democrats and state organizations, it has rebuffed solicitations from the national Democratic House and Senate campaign committees. Instead, it gave $30,000 to their Republican counterparts.
The shift reflects the hard political edge to the industry’s campaign to thwart Mr. Obama’s proposals for tighter financial regulations.“
As you’re reading this, remember, it was The Masters of the Universe that brought us The Great Recession.
It really doesn’t get any simpler than this. You either want these guys “irked” with Democrats or unregulated with Republicans. It’s your choice -- assuming you vote.
February 8, 2010
Saturday, February 06, 2010
The footage on this video is really gruesome but I know most will watch it anyway. One of the aircraft (I suspect a Cirrus) involved in the mid-air collision over Boulder today had a Ballistic Recovery System -- a fancy name for a whole-airplane parachute. In other words, the parachute is for the plane, not the passengers. The passengers stay in the plane and the plane floats to the ground. The device was designed for safety -- as a last-ditch option for saving a plane in trouble. Heartbreaking.
Watch CBS News Videos Online
February 6, 2010
Some folks should find this article interesting.
UN to discuss Air Traffic Control for outer space
”Low orbits have now become so crowded with satellites that operators are regularly having to make emergency manoeuvres to avoid collisions.“
You mean with all the room up there they can’t keep birds apart ? Can’t they tighten up the spacing ? How about more precise navigation ? Are they still using radar (that old stuff) to track these things ? And they don’t even have to contend with runway constraints. Okay, if I’ve made my point I’ll turn off the sarcasm.
”Currently the US is the only country with the ability to track satellites and debris in space, so other countries and satellite operators are reliant on the Americans alerting them to an impending threat.“
”The European Space Agency has already begun work on a new tracking system, the Space Situational Awareness Programme, that could form part of such an international space traffic control. “
But of course.
It will be interesting to see how this all turns out in that no passengers are at risk. Just money.
February 6, 2010
I think I’ve made it clear that I don’t know much about money. Unfortunately (well, in a good way) I have some money I have to tend to from time to time. That led me to watch a little CNBC today and I happened to catch part of The Kudlow Report.
I don’t know if you ever watch CNBC but the actual programs play out on about a third of the screen while graphs and crawlers and numbers whiz by on the rest of the screen. It gives me a headache. But anyway, as I’m watching Mr. Kudlow talk, the message below him says “Obama’s War on Business”.
Huh ? I watch a lot of news. I didn’t know President Obama had declared war on “Business”. Well, you know me, I started looking around. I’ve never even heard of Larry Kudlow. But Mr. Ludlow has a really impressive background. Well, except for that little addiction problem. And I’ll be honest, I thought “supply-side economics” went out of vogue back when Poppy Bush had us reading his lips.
But I kept digging and I found out that Obama’s WoB (War on Business) wasn’t new. Check out the date on this from U.S. News and World Report -- Business.
”By JAMES PETHOKOUKIS
Posted: February 27, 2009
Last October, I wrote the following.
"if Barack Obama is elected president next week, 2009 may well bring a concerted and all-out effort by the Obama administration and a Democratically dominated Congress to turn the generally pro-Republican Investor Class into an endangered class by, among other tactics, raising investment taxes and ending the tax preferences for 401(k)'s, IRAs, and other retirement accounts.... " “
Mr. Pethokouis then refers us to Mr. Kudlow’s piece that makes his case that President Obama declared WoB (capitalism in general) during his first “State of the Union” address that really wasn’t. (It was a speech to a joint session of Congress.)
Are you following along here or are you just getting a headache (like I did) from all this ? Let me spare you the thousand words and soothe your eyes (and maybe your wallet) with this picture.
That’s “The Market” -- the Dow, the S&P and the Nasdaq -- since President Obama took office.
Again, I don’t know anything about money but it looks to me as if President Obama’s War on Business has been a total failure. I’m telling you, Obama can’t do anything right.
February 8, 2010
Same old stuff. It’s hilarious. Well, it is when you don’t have to work for them anymore. If you're still working for the FAA...not so much. From The Potomac Current and Undertow:
”We thought our readers at PCT would like to know that FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt will visit the TRACON on Friday, February 12, 2010. We heard it from some guy working on the TV in the breakroom...“
If it doesn’t strike you as funny, you either work for the FAA or you need to read the comments section to better understand controllers.
February 6, 2010
Friday, February 05, 2010
Some of the old timers out there might remember Compuserve and “Special Interest Groups”. For the younger folks, this was the early days of the internet -- the dark ages as far as some of you are concerned. AVSIG was the first “interest group” on Compuserve -- an AViation Special Interest Group.
AVSIG is still around, which makes it the oldest online aviation forum. On AVSIG, I’m considered one of the younger guys. And that little piece of information should help drive home my main point. AVSIG has more experience -- more depth of knowledge -- about aviation than any place I know of.
The folks at AVSIG have just started a blog. It’s a good chance for you to take a look at what AVSIG is all about. You might even want to join. Take a look around. See if you see anything you like.
February 5, 2010
Thursday, February 04, 2010
Just to keep you updated on the subject, the National Prayer Breakfast has now become controversial because it’s sponsor, “The Family” has become controversial.
National Prayer Breakfast Draws Controversy
”The objections are focused on the sponsor of the breakfast, a secretive evangelical Christian network called The Fellowship, also known as The Family, and accusations that it has ties to legislation in Uganda that calls for the imprisonment and execution of homosexuals. “
I think the U.S. Government should avoid fundamentalist religious groups too.
I think I should also point out that Rachel Maddow has been doing the yeoman’s work on this. There are numerous reasons the U.S. Government should be staying away from The Family but Rachel Maddow found the issue that captured everyone’s attention and kept it in the spotlight. (video)
Background information is here and here. And it all started with Jeff Sharlet’s book, The Family (review here.)
February 4, 2010
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
There’s something to be said for going to school in the frozen tundra I guess. At least it appears to have focused some minds. The students at the University of North Dakota have made some very nice videos about Air Traffic Control. I’ve only watched a couple but, for basic instruction on air traffic control, I’m impressed. If you’re thinking about a career in ATC -- or if you’re a pilot that wants to see what happens on the other side -- I think they would be worth your time.
I believe a word of explanation is in order. I don’t know the technical terms but I’m going to say that the mp4 files aren’t “buffered”. The movies don’t play like over at YouTube. They don’t start playing until they are completely downloaded -- which can take 2-3 minutes with my internet connection. You’ll have to be patient.
February 3, 2010
P.S. I almost forgot. I found these videos through Air Traffic Controllers Around the World on Facebook.
For my readers in London that are bored and looking for something to do... (I’ve never heard of Little Chalfont and Amersham but I guess y’all count too...)
A friend has a new blog that would be just for you.
My Special Relationship: A Guide to London
Grab your sense of adventure on the way out the door. I’m sure you’ll need it.
February 3, 2010
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Mark your calendar. Set your TiVo.
FRONTLINE INVESTIGATES SAFETY PROBLEMS OF MAJOR AIRLINES OUTSOURCING FLIGHTS TO SMALLER REGIONAL CARRIER
There’s a trailer and a clip available at the site.
You can check your local listing here.
February 2, 2010
There is an interesting article on NPR’s website about polar flight and solar storms. It should get you thinking about GPS, shortcuts and saving fuel.
Storms In Space Disrupt Travel On Earth
February 2, 2010
Monday, February 01, 2010
I was reading the new blog entry over at Praxis Foundation this morning and it pointed me to a new web site called Local Airports Matter. At the site, I found some pretty neat videos. Nothing will drive home the point to friends and neighbors that local knowledge matters in air traffic control faster than these videos.
Trust me, I spent 25 years in one of those darkened rooms, hundreds of miles away from the airspace I worked. I didn’t know where the mall was at in Hickory, NC, much less the McDonalds. That dearth of knowledge was a handicap everyday. Some days more than others.
In case you’re interested, the pictures and voice recordings came from the presentations of the Archie League Awards. The awards will be presented to this year’s recipients next month at the Communicating for Safety conference in Orlando. (I’m going to Disney World !) I hope to see you all there.
February 1, 2010