The Voice – Take #2

Pilots often use the expression “being ahead of the airplane”. It refers to the process of anticipating and acting on things about-to-happen so that the workload of flying the airplane stays manageable.

Controllers have to work similarly, but they often have to stay “ahead” of dozens of airplanes (and helicopters, and balloons, and…). Thinking ahead of the situation by controllers is vital to the safety of all of us in the air and on the ground. The job they do is amazing. Often as I listen to ATC chatter while airborne, I get a sense of their ever-mutating picture and what they must be thinking. It really engenders respect for what they do.

Why do I point this out this way?

As I wrote earlier, I couldn’t really see a safety problem with the kid-in-the-tower incident. Judgement, perhaps, but not safety. Neither did others actually familiar with the situation. Heck, the kid’s voice could easily have been a set of computer-generated clearance instructions, or instant-text-messages to a cockpit display. It really wouldn’t make any difference.

But today, I note the spin on this by this post over my Sunday morning coffee.

It never occurred to me that this might be the outcome, but once I read the post, I was simply astounded. The author is dead-on correct; this incident is going to be used as press-manipulating fuel for ATC-system overhaul and privatization. I would never have considered it, but, I don’t have the controller’s talent for 25-steps-ahead thinking either.

If you’re a pilot, take some time to poke around the rest of the material at the Praxis Foundation’s blog. Read deeply. Relate it all back to outsourcing of the FSS system, and how well that process turned out.

If you’re not a pilot, think about how safe an outsourced ATC makes you feel. And that it’ll be done under the guise of safety…

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