It’s the (Lack of) Thought That Counts

Sorry I haven’t written lately; I, unfortunately, have to say that more often than I like.  There’s been something, though, that’s been gnawing at me for awhile now and I would finally like to get it out and into the blogosphere.

The FAA, in its infinite wisdom, a few months ago gave us these 2-sided “reminder cards.”  If I uploaded correctly, you should be able to click on either picture to see a larger view.

At first glance, to the uninitiated, uninformed or just plain clueless, these cards might seem like a good idea – color reminders of what it is we do each day.  Let us take a closer look.

I’m not sure where to start with all this.  Let’s go with the easy.  The Agency has been issuing us new identification cards for over a year now, in the hopes of eventually moving things over to a more centralized ID system.  These cards are meant to fit in card holders similar to these which only hold one card and are a bit bulky.  So many of us who don’t yet need to use the badge holders, don’t.  If you look closely at the Safety Alert card, you’ll notice that it is meant to slip over a lanyard.  The two cards aren’t quite compatible.  Right hand, left hand, neither working/talking with each other; it’s a bit scary at how often that happens the higher you go in the hierarchy in the FAA.  Especially when you consider at the lower levels (i.e. operational floor), how critical it is for what we do daily to know what the “other” hand is doing.

Second, the cards are red with black and yellow printing.  Not the most conducive for reading in a dark radar room.  If you’ve still got yours and haven’t pitched it in the circular file like many, try it; you won’t like it.

Third, if you need a reminder hanging around your neck that our first priority is the separation of aircraft and the issuance of safety alerts, you should be looking for a job elsewhere.  Don’t waste our time.

Fourth, someone in the FAA thought it was necessary to define priority, but highlighted “first.”  Not very intuitive, methinks.

Fifth, it really is not a bad idea to have a reminder (cheat sheet, as we call them) of some of the safety alert phraseology around.  However, to have it on a card that you can’t read in the dark is not very smart.  You want your cheat sheets in a position that maximizes your scan…i.e. next to your scope, not hanging around your neck requiring additional heads-down time.  If a controller is in a position where they need the phraseology, the LAST thing you want is for s/he to be looking down at their chest instead of the scope.

So, at first glance, it looks like the Agency was attempting to do something proactive, semi-innovative or something like that to highlight the importance of what we do.  However, if it was ever someone who was operational who came up with the idea, they obviously haven’t been in the operation for quite some time.

There are times that I seriously wonder how insulted I should get at the lack of thought that goes into these “thoughts” of improvements.  There is only so much you can dumb down the job.  I think we’re there, people, and it’s not a pretty sight up ahead.

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2 Responses to It’s the (Lack of) Thought That Counts

  1. checi says:

    As a 32 year FAA tech, I’ve seen ‘good ideas’ come and I’ve seen ‘good ideas’ go so many times that when a new one comes out, I tend only to think to myself, “Someone took home a paycheck for that crap?” Now I’ve heard we have a new program called “We” that has succeeded only in making me feel a little more dead inside than I normally do during all hands meetings.

  2. Pingback: Can I Retire Yet? | Martinlady's View Through the Looking Glass

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