Monday, April 18, 2011

A Word From Our Boss

Now I’m really starting to wonder who is pushing this issue and for what reason.

It’s not often you get the President’s attention. But just to give you some hope, he was smart enough to leave himself some maneuvering room -- unlike his Secretary of Transportation and his FAA Administrator.

”"The individuals who are falling asleep on the job, that's unacceptable," the president told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview on Thursday. "The fact is, when you're responsible for the lives and safety of people up in the air, you better do your job. So, there's an element of individual responsibility that has to be dealt with."”

”"What we also have to look at is air traffic control systems. Do we have enough back up? Do we have enough people? Are they getting enough rest time?" Obama said.

He added, however, "But it starts with individual responsibility."”

No, Mr. President, you don’t have enough people. We haven’t for decades. No, Mr. President, they don’t get enough rest time. Overtime -- the “solution” proposed by Secretary LaHood -- just makes the problem worse. The best solution was presented in this news story -- naps during the mid shifts. The only question is whether we can find the political courage (and money) to do what is safe. Controllers aren’t afraid to accept responsibility, Mr. President. It’s what they do.

(Like he’ll ever read this.)

And just because I keep forgetting to add this in and I don’t want to write another blog...

I personally know of a controller that fell asleep at a traffic light on his way home. I know of another that fell asleep driving into his garage. He drove through it. I know of another that drove his truck into a ditch. Every single one of them was driving home from a midnight shift. And less than an hour before, they had been controlling airplanes.

You can order people not to fall asleep (for all the good it does.) You can’t order them not to get sleepy.

Don Brown
April 18, 2011

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