Friday, April 01, 2011

Safety Simpleton

Once again, I prove what a simpleton I am. Remember this from two days ago?

”The language the FAA is using is intentionally confusing but they are splitting hairs and proceeding with ERAM’s deployment.”

”Expect the press releases about ERAM to start sometime very soon.”

I must have checked Google News a dozen times yesterday. Nothing. Just crickets chirping. Ole dopey me. I forgot about “The Big Picture”. I forgot about this.

With reauthorization in the air, Mica cuts up on FAA

”The last FAA bill expired in 2007 and lawmakers are about to enact its 18th extension to give House and Senate negotiators time to work out their differences on a longer reauthorization.”

With FAA Reauthorization in play, everyone is holding their breath -- hoping we can all finally get a deal. The article gives you an idea as to the stumbling blocks.

”If lawmakers are given half the chance, odds are high that they can reach a deal on the FAA bill. There is the slightly controversial matter of long-distance slots at Washington's Reagan National Airport, a big deal for a few West Coast senators with long flights home who despise Dulles International Airport located in the D.C. exurbs.”

Those unfamiliar with the issue can go read this blog entry. Every time the FAA comes up for reauthorization this issue comes up. And every time, the Westerners lose. The rest of Congress wants DCA (Washington National) to run on time. (And they’re not about to give up their slots.)

”The most lively debate on the FAA bill likely will revolve around unions. Mica inserted language making it harder for unions to become certified as official representatives of aviation and rail workers.”

We can always depend on Congressman Chairman Mica to be anti-union. (Personal note about the video at the link: I got to meet Patrick Harten at Communicating for Safety.)

Now, I don’t mean to detract from the importance of FAA Reauthorization. I realize that everyone has an issue in a Bill this big. That means there are thousands of issues that are important to hundreds of individuals and organizations. Unfortunately for everyone else, I’m a simpleton. My issue is safety.

ERAM is flawed. It needs to be fixed. The FAA just decided to expand the use of a program they know is flawed. That not only lessens the safety of the National Airspace System but -- it appears to me -- it exacerbates the situation. The FAA and Lockheed will now have five facilities to fix instead of just two. I don’t see any way to call it except for what it is -- a safety problem.

Sorry if the timing is inconvenient. It’s been my experience that there is never a good time for bad news. And the news on ERAM is bad.

Don Brown
April 1, 2011

P.S. If you’re doubtful about my logic, find me a Lockheed press release about the expanded use of ERAM.

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