Friday, August 26, 2011

Earning Their Pay

I know that with Hurricane Irene’s approach to the East Coast of the United States, virtually everyone has an interest. How can we not? There are around 80 million people in it’s path, not to mention the nation’s capital and the world’s financial capital.

But I am was an air traffic controller after all, and as always, my thoughts turn to the job. When you hear a story that the Air Force is moving airplanes off the coast it probably barely registers. For controllers, it means it will be one busy day. All that traffic ( you can’t believe how many airplanes the Department of Defense has) is in addition to the regular traffic controllers work.

The real worry is after the hurricane. Airports are the first point of relief from outside the devastation. For my longtime readers, this isn’t your first rodeo. Others can take a walk down memory lane.

I could spend all day listing the FAA facilities at risk -- DCA, PHL, the Command Center, the Tech Center, JFK, LGA and dozens of other places. But the two places that have to be on the FAA’s priority list are N90 and ZNY -- New York TRACON and New York Center.

One look at a map explains the problem. “A” is the TRACON and B is the Center.

(From Google Maps)

As you can see from the map scale, both are only about 10 miles inland. And if the FAA should lose both of them...some other facility has to take over the airspace. Good luck with that.

Regardless, there will be air traffic controllers working the airspace. While others are putting their lives back together, controllers will be putting their lives and their families on hold. They’ll be earning their pay.

And they’ll “make it work”. Somehow. Someway. They will get the emergency relief into the area’s airports. Somehow. Someway. They always do.

FEMA - 18918 - Photograph by Michael Rieger taken on 09-01-2005 in Louisiana

Don Brown
August 26, 2011


Roger D. Parish said...

Do centers and TRACONs have the capability to let employees "shelter in place"?

Don Brown said...

Beats me, Roger. They used to have cots, Army blankets and C-rations stored at the Centers. But I've got no idea about now.

I got snowed in once at work and swore it would never happen again. :) The joys of living near Atlanta. No snow and no hurricanes. :)

Don Brown

Dan said...

Yes, we still have cots, water, and MREs during Natural Disasters at the ARTCCs.