The Planned Route

The Planned Route
This is as close to "final" as the planned route is likely to get... I don't intend to do any more updates to it. If it changes, I'll mention it in future posts. All but a few of the green lines represent flight segments. Looks like we have a lot of reading in store...

Time Saver

If you want to jump to the beginning of the trip... click here. After that, you can just click "newer post" to read them in order.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Sky is Falling!


That was the title of a recent (Jan. 10, 2008) press release issued by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. Here is what the press release says a staffing emergency is:

“A staffing emergency means that controllers do not have enough trained and experienced personnel on the ground to safely handle the volume of traffic in the air and at major airports.” 

I added the emphasis because, in essence, the Union is saying that flying at the locations named is… well… it’s unsafe. In fact the NATCA President used that exact word in at least one interview following the press release.

This is a rather remarkable assertion to make since the primary job function of an air traffic controller is to ensure safety. Throughout my career, controllers have always been proud of ensuring safety even in spite of their disagreements with the FAA as to how things should be done. 

When I read the press release and the coverage it generated, I was concerned… not so much for what was said as for what was NOT said. I no longer hear the controllers saying that the system is still safe because they are making it safe. Instead, they are now starting to say the exact opposite of that. And that worries me. I hope it also worries the FAA.

Apparently it does not, though… here’s a quote from an article published as a result of the press release:

"They are trying to scare the public and force the FAA to re-open labor negotiations on a contract that is already 1½ years old," FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said.

It seems that rather than address the real issue (which is a lack of sufficient staffing) the FAA would rather sidestep it and equate the controller workforce to Chicken Little. I have no idea if Tony Molinaro has ever been a controller, but from my experience as one, when they start using the word “unsafe”, it’s time to start listening.

Among the many stories run in response to the press release was this segment, which was aired by ABC in their evening news feature, “A Closer Look”.

Here is the text of the comments made by Hank Krakowski, who is the current, recently-installed Chief Operating Officer of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization:

“I can assure you that I have no hesitation to get on an airplane, fly out of any airport, put my family on any airplane at any airport…”

While Hank assures us that he wouldn’t hesitate to put himself and his family on an airplane anytime anywhere, I am actually going to DO it… this summer… and at two of the four locations mentioned in the press release. 

I would like to be as confident about all of this as Hank wants us to believe that he is, but I'm not. I take some comfort, though, in knowing that my former co-workers will do what they do best… make things work. I would feel better if I were confident that Henry Krakowski and his colleagues were doing everything they could to help my former colleagues out. But I’m not.

Incidentally, six days after the original press release, the controllers at Dallas/Ft. Worth also declared a staffing emergency. I have an uneasy feeling that the list will continue to grow.

One more thing about Hank Krakowski… the man has an impressive list of credentials, among them… airline pilot. That means he has spent at least some of his time listening to air traffic controllers. He is now in a position where he has a golden opportunity to listen to them again.

1 comment:

BOB PAGE said...

Thanks for the comment... they are welcome and appreciated. Plugs, on the other hand, are not.