Saturday, December 26, 2009

Old News--at least to Air Traffic Controllers

This story ran last week. There was video on ABC (video link in the story). Maybe you saw it. Maybe you were outraged by the wasteful spending. It came as no surprise to those of us that are Air Traffic Controllers. It was pretty much "business as usual" in the FAA. It really didn't take long for the culture to swing from working together for aviation safety (during the Clinton Administration) to the FAA dictatorship of the Bush Administration. It appears as if the FAA Management culture will take a little more time to swing back towards working together for the good of aviation during the current Administration. We do have a labor contract--at the order of the President. But getting to do what you want without accountability is a difficult thing to give up and I have a feeling it is going to be a long time before controllers place any trust in those that manage the agency.

Overall, I'd have to say that we have a pretty good management team at Springfield, MO. That's not to say that they don't have their moments of cranial rectosis, but they are usually decent enough to deal with. It was interesting that they immediately tagged NATCA (the controller's union) as the whistle blower that informed ABC News of the story. It may have been somebody from NATCA, but with an employee satisfaction ranking of 214 out of 216 government agencies there are a lot of potential whistle blowers in FAA land. NATCA members only make up about a tenth of FAA employees. There is also the nagging thing about the general public being fed up with government waste. The information could have come from a hotel employee or from a non-union member controller.

The good news is that there is hope for the future. In spite of the poor planning to properly staff air traffic facilities in the FAA, they are now being more creative in training new controllers. If you look at the graph at the end of the article, you'll see that the road ahead is a long one. I hope that our new Administrator will look to the controllers for help in shaping the system and continuing to keep the US skies the safest in the world.

I don't want to make too much of the ABC story. Like the one manager said, "What are you gonna do?" It's what we deal with on a daily basis. I can tell you this--for the most part (hey, every occupation has its weak links), the men and women that I know in the business of ATC are the very best. They work their butts off to make sure that you get to where you are going in a safe, orderly and expeditious manner.

So keep flying. The guys in the ABC story aren't the ones working the airplanes!


1 comment:

Mike said...

I'm never leaving my house again. .... Unless an airplane falls on it.

Wv: coldprep - A fantasy. An impossible task. Wishfull thinking.