AVmail: Sep. 11, 2006
Jacksonville's Ban On Home Aircraft
I read the article describing Jacksonville's city ordinance attempting to prohibit aircraft repair, restoration or kit construction at residential homes (AVwebFlash, Aug. 31). I then visited Brian Kraut's Web site, viewing pictures of his home and numerous neighbors' homes. The obvious distinguishing difference between his home and the others appears to be the distinct absence of an American flag embellishing either his project, porch, or garage.
Bruce M. Elliott
Controllers Dress Code
What has the world come to? You can't wear flip-flops, cut-off jeans and t-shirts to work any more (AVwebFlash, Sep. 4)? Maybe these over-pampered folks should take a look around and see what the rest of us have to do for a living. I know they feel their jobs are stressful, but so is mine and I am still expected to look and act appropriately when in the workplace. What gets me is how did they get to the point that they could wear flip-flops, jeans and t-shirts to work in the first place? If looking more professional in a professional workplace -- I always hear them say they are professionals -- then why not look the part? To me, if someone looks sloppy they probably are and their work habits will more than likely follow those same lines.
If looking neat and clean means you feel you can't do your job correctly and professionally, then maybe it would be best to find a new job.
Finally, I never heard of anyone, with probably the exception of a lifeguard, who couldn't do his or her job because they had to wear shoes, pants and a shirt while on the job. Wake up, people, and look around at the real world. You can be replaced, again.
I'm addressing the three articles AVwebFlash ran about the FAA in the latest issue:
1. The New Dress Code: Boy it really broke my heart to have to wear slacks and a collared shirt to work on Labor Day. I hope the new dress code didn't affect the "double-time" salary I was getting while doing my normal duties. But tell me why a pilot should expect crappy service just because I have a clothing disagreement with my employer? If you check, you will probably find that FAA brass had little to do with instigating the drastic change of dress code. I was briefed that a U.S. Congressman came into a facility and complained about what he saw controllers wearing (and not wearing).
2. The New Sick Leave Policy: The FAA is not clamping down on alleged abuse of sick leave, as you put it. The FAA is clamping down on blatant abuses of sick leave. It is common practice for controllers who have been denied annual leave to switch the request to sick leave. Why? Because if a supervisor makes a controller work sick and that controller has a loss of separation; the supervisor's butt will be hung out to dry and the controller knows it. Supervisors take a huge risk when they deny a controller's request for sick leave and that is why it almost never happens. As NATCA is fully aware, FAA management looks for a pattern of abuse. Nothing has changed here. For example, if a controller seems to get sick once a week on a day that conjoins with his weekend, it looks like he enjoys three-day weekends and doesn't want to burn up his annual leave to get them. That's a pattern of abuse.
3. The Lexington, Ky., Crash: I worked for 18 years at an air traffic facility that gave up the airspace to an ARTCC sector (one that handled "mainly high-altitude traffic") every night when we closed. We promptly got it back upon opening the next morning. The process worked just fine. I do not know why the Center wouldn't take the Lexington airspace other than the fact that they didn't feel they needed to. If an Air Traffic Manager came to me and said, "Please take our airspace on the mid-shift because we don't have enough people to work the six flights every night," I'd probably say "No," too. I would tell the manager to consult the Regional Office and ask them what he should do. All it takes is a stroke of a pen to close Lexington's tower at night and the responsibility would default on the ARTCC anyway. If you don't think the pen is swift and powerful enough to make this happen, go interview all the AFSS employees who lost their jobs this year.
This lack of manning thing you're suggesting is absurd. Let me explain something real simple to you about the control tower: Your tax dollars pay me well to stand there and watch you land and takeoff. When an airplane is landing or taking off, there is no (read absolutely no) administrative duty so important as to require a controller to turn his/her back on that airplane. When you're landing, I'm watching to make sure you have the gear down and are lined up on the correct runway. I'm quickly scanning the runway to make sure it is clear and safe. This is the minimum. When you take off, I am watching to make sure you're departing the correct runway and that it is clear and safe for you to travel down. After you lift off, I check to make sure your gear are retracted and that you don't have smoke billowing out of an engine or whatever. As you leave, I am also watching the radar to make sure your transponder and altitude encoder light up for the departure controller. This again is the minimum.
What did you think you're paying me to do? It doesn't take but one controller to launch a departure. No one needed to be there to watch the radar display when a jet is screaming down the wrong piece of pavement. The controller should have been watching the jet. This doesn't negate the responsibilities of two well-trained pilots who facilitated a tragic error that should not have happened. I'm only pointing out that, if the controller was watching the jet like he/she was supposed to be doing, those people would be alive right now. You can place a dozen controllers in a tower, but what good are they if they're not controlling when pilots need it most?
Comair Accident at Lexington
Aside from the obvious mistakes the Comair crew made at Lexington, what's wrong with attaching runway-length-available info below the runway signs at every set of hold-short lines on a runway? This would have been one more indicator to the crew of the regional jet, and think what great information it would be for us all, especially at uncontrolled airports. Inexpensive, yet very valuable info. This idea could get traction if enough pilots got on the bandwagon and pressed the Feds. How about it?
Fuel and Travel
While on a fishing trip to Big Bear, Calif., with my son we were a surprised to find fuel (100LL) at only 3.59 a gallon. I thought it was a mistake, but as we queried a local gent he told us they do it to get folks up there.
I think it's going to work.
Picture of the Week
Glad that our "not a teacup" inspired you enough to include it the POTW (Aug. 31), we certainly had fun participating in this event. As for the record, a new one was established with the 261 balloons inline, no idea what the previous number was -- if it existed. I see from next year's proposed program it will be redone, but this time with a line down either side of the runway!