Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Short Memories in Government / FAA?

Air Traffic Controller aboard the US Navy Aircraft Carrier Kitty Hawk, photo by expertininfantry

In August of 1981, President Regan fired 11,000 union Air Traffic Controllers who were striking for shorter (safer) hours and higher wages. Regan put a lifetime ban on re-hiring any of them. Today there are fewer Air Traffic Controllers than in 1981 despite a huge increase in air traffic.

Who is to blame for the current and smaller number of controllers (relative to air traffic) pulling double shifts, being overworked and falling asleep on the job? The FAA hires and manages them.

Gee, you don't think the government might be culpable, do you?

One of my memories as an older teenager (18 and licensed to drive) is that sometimes my friend Alice and I (late at night) would go up to the air traffic control tower at Miami International Airport and ask if they wanted company. If traffic was slow, they'd let us in and try to explain some of what they were doing. We only went a very few times, and there were always at least 4 men (usually men, although I don't recall any females) in the tower. I can still remember how they valued their awesome responsibility to get planes safely on the ground. I cannot imagine a controller today having any less work ethic, and in my mind can only attribute 'sleeping on the job' to overwork.

(Yeah, I know it's not like my regular posts on gardening or making basic foods... I get  short-tempered when I'm sick.)

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