Problems in Air Traffic Control and Proposed Solutions
The Oakland Center nightmare could have caused the largest loss of life from an aviation-related accident. There literally could have been bodies and airplane wreckage falling from the skies throughout Northern California. But thankfully, it didn't happen. The day was saved by every controller working western America's airspace that day. The day was saved by pilots that followed previously assigned clearances, and those that were worthy enough aviators to weave their way through uncontrolled, but not uncrowded airspace.
Everyone's got an opinion. In this case, everyone knows the best way to fix the crumbling airways. NATCA wants the FAA structures as a corporation would be. But the union goes on to say they'll support any legislation that meets their laundry list of concerns. The FAA wants to restructure the system from within. The also support the notion of freeing their agency from the procurement, budgeting, and hiring stranglehold they're under from the federal government. And then our nation's lawmakers got involved. There are approximately five variations the basic reform bill making their way around Capitol Hill. There's a plan to totally privatize the FAA, another to partly privatize it, another to rework it from within, and a few other variations of those. Legislators have their own reasons to support certain bills; is our safety one of them?
The Federal Times editorial sums up an everyday controllers concern. He's the one working with that aged computer equipment, he's the one working the unnecessarily long shifts, he's the one scared every day his screen will go dark during the morning rush hour. I would be inclined to listen very closely to his concerns and follow his recommendations towards a solution.
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