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Sticking up for FAA and Air Traffic Controllers

Background first. For almost 4 years I worked as a Contractor (Systems Analyst) at FAA Headquarters in Wash, DC. Our office was next door to the National Command Center. I was in and out of the Center daily. I also visited several En route Centers and saw how each filled its niche in the overall system. In many ways, I was an outsider looking in. And I saw and learned a lot.

So here goes--it is too easy to knock FAA. Congress has given them an impossible mandate--to ensure air traffic safety while promoting flying. Talk about dichotomies! Then add the political clout of the airlines--give me campaign finance reform please!

But I digress. Yes, the FAA is slow to improve the system. Part of the problem is the absolute necessity of getting it right before deploying new features, and part is FAA's inability to nail down GOOD requirements and stick to them.

But there is a finite--one thing that we cannot go beyond. And that is the capacity at the airport. Only so many planes can safely take off/land in a given period. Without an extensive overhaul/expansion, we will hit a point we cannot go beyond.

During my time at FAA I met or talked with scads of air traffic controllers, and my hat goes off to them. Their job is SO boring, but not one wants any excitement on the job because that means, at the very least, an aircraft in trouble!

If you have never visited an En route Center or the National Command Center (ATCSCC) now located in Dulles, VA, please make an effort to do so. And remember, being an air traffic controller (ATC) is a thankless job, one that is rarely acknowledged by the flying public (they haven't a clue what it takes to get them from A to B). ATCs are the unsung heroes of all air travelers. I hope on a future show you can give them a snippet of the credit they are due.



website. Summer storm time should make for good info.


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