Some in the aviation world may have heard that Marion Blakey, former FAA Administrator, is slated to receive an award. It crossed my mind to write down and share my thoughts about it, but the truth is, I can’t stand the woman. We’re still trying to undo the damage to the National Airspace System (NAS) that she wrought during her tenure at the FAA…and forestall the damage she will still wreak, in some fashion, in her CEO position at Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), trying to contract out as much of the NAS to private industry as she can to increase AIA’s members paychecks while decreasing safety.
The woman had the opportunity to really earn the award that, for some reason unfathomable to me, the National Aeronautical Association (NAA) is planning to give her. She could have gotten ahead of the retirements that any reasonable, thinking person could see coming (1981 + 25 = 2006), but instead she chose to take actions that would decimate the workforce, attempting to get the pay scales down to where private industry could earn big profits if they took over the NAS. She chose to contract out Flight Service, so now many pilots have to pay to get full and complete pre-flight briefings or file flight plans if they want to get anywhere close to the level of service they had previously received from area-familiar government employees. She chose to contract out ownership of parts of the NAS, so that the Agency tasked with aviation public safety on a 24/7 schedule was now a customer awaiting service calls when equipment didn’t work as it should, when it should.
For controllers, safety isn’t a budget line item to be cut simply so that money can be made by those who care about those budget line items. For most of us, safety is a calling, a mantra, the reason we do what we do…and why we are very proud and protective of what we do and why we do it.
But what I really want to say isn’t family-friendly and would probably come across as ranting, so I’ll refrain from continuing further.
Luckily, calmer pens (or keyboards) than mine have said, much better than I could, much of what should be said. Take the time to check out Don Brown’s post and the open letter Praxis Foundation wrote to the National Aeronautical Association. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.