Thursday, March 04, 2010

How Hard Could it Be?

If two children could do it?

And apparently do it well with a minimum of direction. That Dad, I'm certain, doesn't sit at home giving his children instruction on the intricacies of air traffic control, so that instruction they got was OTJ training. If a nine-year old can direct a jetliner to a runway, or give instructions on when to take off and land with a minimum of direction, then why are air traffic controllers paid between 49-and 103,000 a year?

I have issues with this story, for obvious reasons.

But the next time I hear an air traffic controller complain about the "stressful, life-and-death responsibility" that comes with their job, I'll point to the hefty salaries and the tapes of a couple of kids directing traffic at a major airport. I'll also point to the helicopter disaster over the Hudson River last year when an air traffic controller was busy chatting with his girlfriend while a joy-riding, weekend-air warrior plowed his richboy's toy into a helicopter full of tourists, an accident that might have been avoided if the controller wasn't busy breathing heavily into his cellphone.

These guys, air traffic controllers, are also on the front lines of our defense against hijacking terrorists. They track the planes, they are in contact with NORAD and air defense authorities. It would be a shame if a repeat of 9/11 couldn't be avoided, or minimized, because Daddy had to take Junior to the sandbox, or Little Sally spilled her juice box, or maybe puked on the console.

If they take the job so seriously as to let their kids do it for them -- as a lark -- or consider a gabfest with the girlfriend take priority over the safety of passengers, then they deserve to be fired. I have no sympathy for this father (himself a former Union president, and therefore one assumes an experienced controller who should have known better. More shame on him: he did it twice on successive days).

The defense that there wasn't an accident, and therefore, this is not a big issue, is a false one. There could have been, and it might have been caused because a confused child with no formal training sitting on Daddy's knee transmitted bad information, just like in a childhood game of Telephone, before Daddy could discover or correct her mistake. I can promise you that had there been an accident, Daddy wouldn't just have been fired, he'd be on the wrong end of a few hundred wrongful death suits.

"Take Your Kid to Work Day" is a nice idea, but there are certain professions where this should be strictly prohibited; operating rooms, aircraft carriers, nuclear power plants, explosives factories, coal mines and for damned sure, airport control towers.

For 103k a year, you'd expect to find people who had some sense.

I'm certain the man's union will fight tooth-and-nail for him, and shame on them, as well. So to for the FAA, which apparently dragged it's collective feet on first investigating the issue, and then lowering the boom on Daddy.

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