Monday, June 20, 2011

Blakey Honored -- I Object

I could hardly believe my eyes as I read the news on AVweb.

Blakey To Get Top Aviation Award

”The sometimes-controversial former head of the FAA is getting one of aviation's most prestigious awards for her "significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation and aerospace in the United States." Marion Blakey, who was FAA administrator from 2002 to 2007, will get the National Aeronautic Association's Cliff Henderson Trophy at NAA's final luncheon series meeting in Washington. The award is given annually to a living person whose "vision, leadership or skill" has promoted aviation.”

I have made no secret of my dislike for Marion Blakey. In my opinion, she’s nothing more than a political sycophant. Throughout her career, she’s taken whatever job her Republican sponsors have given her and implemented their political agenda.

Marion Blakey -- Prior US government service

”Blakey has held four previous Presidential appointments, two of which required Senate confirmation. From 1992 to 1993, Blakey served as administrator of the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As the nation's leading highway safety official, she was charged with reducing deaths, injuries, and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. Prior to her service at NHTSA, she held key positions at the United States Department of Commerce, the United States Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the White House, and the United States Department of Transportation.”

For the National Aeronautic Association to present Marion Blakey an award, the purpose of which is to recognize people “whose vision, leadership or skill made a significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation and aerospace in the United States”, is -- in my opinion -- a grave error in judgment and a disservice to the previous winners of the award.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Let’s check with the FAA.

From the Update to FAA Historical Chronology: Civil Aviation and the Federal Government, 1926-1996 (This is a large .pdf file.)

“September 13, 2002: Marion C. Blakey was sworn in as the 15th Administrator of FAA.”

”January 21, 2004: Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced a new order intended to reduce flight congestion and passenger inconvenience at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Under terms of the order signed by FAA administrator Marion Blakey, both American and United agreed to reduce their operations during the peak hours between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. by five percent.”

Secretary Mineta, not Administrator Blakey. Give her credit if you wish.

”January 30, 2004: FAA Administrator Marion Blakey submitted a final proposal for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) multi-unit contract, along with the union’s objections, to Congress seeking help in resolving the issue.”

Thinly disguised union busting.

”December 16, 2004: FAA Administrator Marion Blakey announced a revised presidential policy on the global positioning system (GPS).
...The policy directed the Departments of Defense and Transportation to ensure that GPS civil services exceed or at least be equivalent to services provided by the European Galileo system.”

Not exactly visionary.

”November 28, 2005: FAA Administrator Marion Blakey called for federal mediation to help the agency reach a voluntary contract agreement with the air traffic controllers union.”

More union busting. This time, she’s taking on the controllers themselves.

”July 18, 2006: FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and European Commission Vice President Jacques Barrot signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that secured enhanced cooperation toward building a more efficient and seamless air traffic system between Europe and the United States. The MOU focused on building administrative bridges between the United States’ NextGen and the Commission’s Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) airspace modernization programs”

You might want to check on how NextGen is doing these days, before you put that one in the “win” column.

”September 13, 2007: Marion Blakey left FAA after serving her five-year term. Robert Sturgell became acting administrator.”

I don’t know of anyone that wants to put Bobby Sturgell in the “win” column either.

So, except for approving a diesel airplane engine, a new airman certificate with some security features and a few memorandums of agreement with various other countries -- various odds and ends like that -- there you have Marion Blakey’s official FAA History. It boils down to two main themes:

1. Union busting
2. Promoting NextGen while using it as a vehicle to privatize the National Airspace System.

Again, you don’t have to believe me. You can read the FAA’s own history;

”August 30, 2007: FAA selected ITT Corporation as the prime contractor for the Automatic Dependent Surveillance — Broadcast (ADS-B) system. Under the terms of the approximately $1.8 billion contract, ITT would build the ADS-B ground stations and would own and operate the equipment. FAA would pay subscription charges to ITT for the transmission of ADS-B broadcasts to suitably equipped aircraft and air traffic control facilities.”

(Emphasis added)

And to be honest, contracting out the FAA was well under way before Marion Blakey got there so all you really have left is union busting. I’ve already covered that part for you -- here at Get the Flick.

”Your Federal Government reached a new low under George W. Bush with the hiring of one Joe Miniace. He was hired for one specific purpose -- to hurt the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. NATCA is the union that represents the nation’s air traffic controllers.”

Again, straight from the FAA’s mouth.

”May 4, 2005

WASHINGTON, DC — Administrator Marion C. Blakey today named Joseph Miniace as the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) Deputy Assistant Administrator for Strategic Labor Management Relations. As a recognized expert in employee and management relations, Miniace will help advance the FAA’s strategic goal as a governmental leader in personnel and labor management.”

For those that don’t remember these things, or never knew them, you can read everything I’ve written about Marion Blakey on Get the Flick. I might as well link the ones on Joe Miniace too -- in that he was such an interesting character.

The only thing that distinguishes Marion Blakey’s career at the FAA is union busting. The only other possibility is her cheer leading for NextGen -- a program that has yet to realize any significant results and may yet fail to do so.

Specifically, Marion Blakey caused thousand of controllers to retire early with her imposed work rules. This, despite having the benefit of hindsight to see how devastating the PATCO strike was to the controller profession. Once again, the controller profession has lost most of its institutional memory and now must relearn all the old mistakes again. The cost is as incalculable as it was unnecessary. Just because it is hidden from the Public (and we all pray it stays that way) does not mean that it isn’t real. In fact, the lack of expertise and institutional memory may be the very thing that dooms NextGen to failure. Again, Marion Blakey had the benefit of hindsight -- the FAA’s AAS program -- and chose to ignore historical reality in favor of political ideology.

I hope I have made my case. I don’t believe Marion Blakey is the sort of individual an organization like the National Aeronautic Association would want to honor. I may be too late. I may not change anybody’s mind. But I object.

(You can object too.)

Don Brown
June 20, 2011


Kevin said...

Wow...just wow! Great piece!

Labrador Blue Dog said...

I object.

Damn it, I object.

Crude said...

When you see who were a part of the Awards Committee this is not surprising.

NAC Awards & Events Board

The NAC Board members are:

Steve Callaghan, Lockheed Martin Corporation


Scott Neumann, Federal Aviation Administration


Steven Smith, Federal Aviation Administration

Crude said...

Don, here is my "objection":

You have got to be kidding me!

Marion Blakey the Cliff Henderson Trophy?

This makes the Cliff Trophy mean much less than it originally did.

Go back to giving it to the outstanding pilot at the National Air Races ... it will mean something there!

Wicked Penguin said...

To think that her name is allowed to soil the ranks of luminaries like Doolittle and Crossfield.

This really saddens me.

I should send her a freaking bill for the $4000 in per diem she owes me - and every other Academy student through the end of 2007.

Tango Whiskey said...

As I said in another forum, the only award Blakey should receive is inmate of the year from the federal penitentiary. As FAA administrator she awards huge contracts to private enterprise, resigns from the FAA and is then awarded a six figured salary from those she just awarded the federal contracts to. There are laws against this. but unfortunately they are never applied.

The fraternity of ass-kissing, incestuous cronyism continues unabated and frankly it makes me want to vomit.

Blakey is a shame to the industry as you and many others who actually have a knowledge of the industry have so ably pointed out.