Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Good News and the Bad News

So today I had my annual review at work. That's no big deal and since I haven't had a raise for the past two years and won't see one this year either (thanks to the imposed work rules and new/15 year old pay scale of the FAA). I generally get good reviews (one would hope that a guy that sidelines as a preacher would be a decent employee) and this one was no exception. The good news was that I may be getting a break from training for a while. My trainee is doing well and my supervisor said that since I've been training him for about a year and a half now, I deserve a break. The bad news is that we are getting several more new controllers in the next few months and I'll probably get another trainee. For the record--I'd prefer not to train anybody.

I really don't care for training too much. The ATC manual--the 7110.65--is a big book that is full of all kinds of rules. I keep telling my supervisor that I only know two of them! In the terminal environment (that's where I work) standard separation for aircraft is three miles at the same altitude or 1000'. All of the other rules are pretty much to satisfy the lawyers if something goes wrong and a plane falls out of the sky or gets too close to the ground or another plane. Three miles or a thousand feet works well for me. Whenever I hear another instructor telling their trainee something from the .65, I tell my trainee that he should listen in--that's probably something that I should be teaching, too! I doubt that it instills a lot of confidence in his instructor--fortunately, he's seen me work busy traffic.

I was talking with a co-worker yesterday about how much legalism we tend to put into Christianity. The Old Testament is full of laws and rules. Our churches today still burden members with unnecessary rules that are made in the traditions and judgments of men. It occurred to me that Jesus may have taken my approach to ATC training. When questioned about the greatest Law of the Old Testament (it was just the Law back then) He said that there were two. The first is found in Deuteronomy 6:5 and says, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Jesus then said that the second was like it. It's found in Leviticus 19:18 and says, "... love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus then said that the rest of the Law is built on these two.

I'm a pretty simple guy and tend to try to keep things as uncomplicated as I can. I can remember the two main rules of air traffic control--three miles or one thousand feet--and that works for me. If I can remember the two main rules for life--love God and love others--I think that would work for me, too.



Amanda said...

The first leg of my trip to Brisbane was from Palembang to Singapore. When we were approaching Changi Airport, the plane suddenly swerved left and started going DOWN! I was by the window and it was so so so scary.

Anyway, the pilot made an announcement when he corrected the plane and I'm sure he said something about the distance between our plane and the one in front of us. I'm wondering now if he remembers that 3 mile rule you mentioned!

Do planes know when they get too near another one? Is there some sort of sensor? Or is it the air traffic controllers that tell them?

Bilbo said...

The Catholic Church has a vast code of Canon Law, and the US Law Code is enormous. Somehow, the Bible managed to boil it all down to 10 Commandments which, along with the Golden Rule, would seem to do fine and be easier to remember.

Mike said...

Have you ever just tried to make the trainee just ... disappear?

John said...

Amanda, the answer is yes. Aircraft are equipped with an on board system that alerts them to other aircraft in near proximity and gives them conflict resolution instructions. Controllers are also giving instructions to keep planes apart and in sequence to the airport.

Most airlines have policies that require pilots to comply with their on board systems. This was often dangerous with the first generation systems but now systems are very advanced and quite safe.

Mike, if I make my replacement disappear the FAA may not let me retire in 3 yrs, 2 mos and 22 days.

Sicilian said...

Interesting thoughts about rules. WE had a discussion about that at work today and come up with the same conclusion. OUr God is bigger than rules, but loving God and loving our neighbor is the most important rule.