April 25, 2011

Show Off

The public suddenly has its eyes turned on the Air Traffic Controllers. Really?

There has always been something missing from this Blog, in my opinion. Examples of my actual job, unedited. When I have a fantastically busy session at HNK/DNY -- my perfect phraseology, creative crossing restrictions to ensure separation, subtle vectors when a crossing restriction won't work, my D-side calling New York to get control for lower on the ALB arrivals, delivering Area E some awesome looking in-trail -- I can't ask my supervisor for a recording of my frequency and land lines to upload here, and I can't take a quick screen shot from the Falcon program to show off to you how proud I am of the work that we all do on a daily basis. Giving you access to that information is a security risk, a violation of policy, and copyright infringement. And if you're not a pilot, you'll never get access into my building for a tour to see it all first hand. Instead, I do my best to explain what happened using rudimentary maps, some excellent Flightaware.com links, and my words. I appreciate all of you for following along and your comments and encouragement.

But there are people hovering. Folks just waiting for me to screw up. They're pretty sure I will; I'm human, after all. And when I do screw up there is a major possibility that what I have done, what I've said, and how horrible of a person I am, will be plastered all over the media-scape. Life really isn't fair, after all. I'm not allowed to share with you the 99.9999 percent positive aspects of my work with you here, or anywhere, but that .00001 percent may be used against my entire profession without rebuttal.

Perhaps what I want to show off to you all is too complicated, and people could be afraid of what they don't understand. But the point would be made. What I, and 15000 other air traffic controllers in the US, and tens of thousands more around the world do every day, cannot be explained to the general public in specific terms. And if the public can't understand the positive details, how can they judge us on the negative details?

So maybe we should stay locked up behind windowless doors and just do our work everyday in quiet perfection. Have we created an unfair expectation of ourselves because we do our jobs perfectly almost all the time? Have we silenced ourselves by focusing on undramatic things like "safety"? When the specifics of our rare mistakes are made public but we can't defend ourselves with details of our constant and habitual commendable actions but once a year, getting the flying public home in a safe and efficient manner, then we're loosing an unfair fight. The only thing that gets shown off is a negative image. But that isn't how I see my work at all. If only I could show you.

Till next time...



Anonymous said...

AAHHH....Dude you're a boston center controller. Get over your self. Come to N90 and flunk out. Then tell me about ATC.

deltamike172 said...

Is that the new tradition? :) Someone already tried that.

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure many years ago to visit an enroute center (centre) in Canada a few years ago and was given a great appreciation for the work done there even on a quiet Wednesday night. In addition, I've had the pleasure of going on a tour of a control tower at a major Canadian airport and do appreciate all the hard work that is done in the challenging environment they have to work with.

Unfortunately the media will never attempt to fully understand your profession, or the profession of the thousands of dedicated pilots out there either. They'll continue to raise fear in the general public, since that is what sells the newspapers, and sells the advertising on the networks.

Thank you for your hard work, and for your blog.

YYC Dispatcher

Ben said...

As a private pilot, I appreciate the controllers I get to interact with every time I fly. You all do a great job and I respect you for it. A hat tip from the other end of the microphone to you, sir.

Anonymous said...

DM, you have far from perfect phraseology. Get over yourself!

And the N90 controller on here talking smack....lol, you guys are the weakest spoke on this ATC-wheel. Unable to do anything without kicking, screaming, and screwing over a neighboring facility. The whole NAS would be better off if you and ZNY slipped into the drink. Delays would reduce, morale would increase, and we wouldn't have to deal with the pathetic excuse you guys are for Air Traffic Controllers. More like Air Traffic Receivers/Orders....get the planes delivered with all the work done!

Anonymous said...

Also for the N90 controller, how about we DON'T give you 15 MIT to EWR, LGA, HPN, EWR sats and 30 MIT to JFK and ignore the no notice holds you give us? Do that and I will respect your skill, until then all you do is work the volume that we took the complexity out of.

pinecone said...

Hey, thanks for writing this! Maybe the media is creating a negative image of ATC's so they can implement NextGen without too much public opposition...?

(Sorry if you've already written about this)

getjets said...

What is up with all this sparring...!

yes...makes for somewhat interesting reading, but really a waste of time...no one wins!!!
just my opinion no asked for....

DM...please do not be discouraged!!
it is true....each plane that takes off and lands safely...is it's own success story!!!!!!