Monday, December 05, 2011

Clarifying Thoughts on ERAM



The longer I write a blog, the more I noticed I feel I must repeat myself.

”Before I close, I want to reiterate; ERAM has to work. If the FAA decided to scrap the whole thing tomorrow, they’d have to start over the very next day. It’s that important. It is a monumental undertaking. The pressure to keep this ball rolling is enormous. But so are the consequences if ERAM’s shortcomings cause an accident.”


There is no glee in my I-Told-You-So. I actually want ERAM to work. It must work. But shrouding it in secrecy won’t make it work. It is critical that the project remain in public view -- warts and all.

First, it is public funds that are paying for it. A lot of funds. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. That calls for public accountability. Second, it’s important from a historical perspective. This won’t be the last time that we will have to overhaul the air traffic control system. It certainly isn’t the first. To avoid this current fiasco in the future, it is important for the Air Traffic Control world at large to understand what is happening. What we’ve done right. What we’ve done wrong. It can’t be limited to just a select few with inside knowledge.

Institutional memory shouldn’t be limited to a select few. It shouldn’t be made of rumors, half truths and legends. The truth is important.

It’s a sometimes-overwhelming urge of humans to cover up their mistakes. The aviation industry can’t allow it. I learned that when I was pumping gas into airplanes as a teenager. If you ding an airplane, you have to confess. You aren’t qualified to know if the damage could compromise flight safety. The pilot and/or a mechanic has to check it out. Lives are at stake.

Aviation safety depends on the truth. The whole truth. It’s just that simple. It’s just that hard.

Don Brown
December 5, 2011

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