Thursday, August 31, 2006


Mail Bag

Regular readers of this blog (if there ever was such a thing) will recall from our post of 12/2/05 (‘Sidebar’) that we don’t answer e-mails. We’ll not iterate the reasons here, but we’ve been deluged with letters over the past couple of days and thought it best to answer all three (yes, for us, that amount justifies the verb).

To Randy at Your information is on track, but best to get clarification from ‘the horse’s mouth.’ Talk to someone from an en route center that engages in such oceanic operations; Seattle, Oakland, Miami, New York.

To Bill (retired): Thanks for the kind words. We’re gratified that what we do can be of some value, no matter how small.

Finally, to the AP reporter who has asked the following:
"…we're trying to gather more information about the air traffic control side of
what happened during Flight 5191 crash in Lexington. We're also trying to
get in contact with the air traffic controller who was working that night to get
his side of the story, because right now it seems like investigators are placing
a pretty big burden on him and we don't know if that's fair. If you have any
information or know of anyone who might be able to give us a few hints or ideas
to pursue, I would greatly appreciate it."
We understand the media wanting to get the story, but please realize that there’s no more ‘story’ left to tell at this point. It has always frustrated us that news tends to exist in the vacuum of the immediate ‘now’ without the benefit of historical ‘context.’ In this case, there’s enough precedent to indicate what happens next; namely we sit and wait for the NTSB report. Please read your own news archives. If you want a good template, check out the Wellstone crash of a few years ago. You’ll find a very identifiable sequence of events following such an event.

Yes, it may seem that “investigators are placing a pretty big burden” on the controller involved. But that’s only because there is. We have a controller not only working solo during a crash in his area of responsibility, but a witness to relevant events as well. This is not a matter of judgment or blame, but simply the way it is. Res ipse loquitor.

Finally, even if we knew the identity of the controller involved, the last thing we would do is assist reporters in contacting him. We have a pretty good idea of what is going through said controller’s mind and stomach right now, and the last thing he needs is a media encampment in his yard or a chorus of phone calls seeking comment.

In short, you’re not going to get any comment from the controller in question. And believe us, he doesn’t need ‘persuasion’ from the FAA to remain silent; he knows it’s in his own best interest to do so (and wise, we believe). If you want some generic controller viewpoints on accidents or the airport, there are most likely some recent retirees in the Lexington area. The LEX union representative can help you there.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Carr Wreck – Update

We’ve learned a bit more about the controller sentiment that resulted in John Carr failing his bid for re-election as president of NATCA.

It appears that indeed Mr. Carr’s abrasive style was irritating those he was representing. Mr. Forrey made this a centerpiece of his challenge.

We also learned that there was dissatisfaction with Mr. Carr’s financial management of union funds. A great deal of money was spent on consultants that wrote speeches fro Mr. Carr, but produced no results on the labor-management front (we’ve heard figures ranging from $500,000 to $1,000,000). Also a box suite at RFK stadium seemed to make it into the union’s budget.

Mr. Forrey has a campaign web site here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Carr Wreck

While NAATS was having its union authorization vote, NATCA (National Air Traffic Controllers Association) was having a leadership election. John Carr lost to challenger Pat Forrey.

We were not privy to the campaign the two nominees waged, and our contacts in the centers and towers are not extensive enough to warrant more than an anecdotal glance at possible reasons Mr. Carr failed to win re-election, but so far we’ve come up with three :

- lack of results in recent negotiations
- Abrasive approach and commentary
- Inability to realize and work with the new labor/management realities in the FAA.

Granted, those are rather inter-related and there is probably more to the story, but all-in-all we are not surprised. In our posts of 12/11/05 (“Mr. Carr gets a Blog”) and 12/1/05 (“The Archaic Playbook”) we stated that Mr. Carr was not grasping the new realities of FAA labor-management relations. From what we’ve learned about the election outcome so far, it seems that NATCA controllers have agreed with our assessment.

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