Let’s Talk Politics

In my family, you don’t talk politics, especially over a nice Christmas dinner. The ensuing argument, fists pounding on tables, and loud angry voices would definitely kill the Christmas spirit.

But it seems such conversations are unavoidable of late in aviation. In one month’s time, we’ve seen the following:

Yes to knives. Oops. No. Wait a minute. We changed our minds!

Once in awhile, governmental agencies adopt policies that are logical, based in fact and research, and meant to truly make a difference. This is not what happened here. In March, the FAA said it would allow knives with blades shorter than 2.36 inches, hockey sticks and more on planes. Then in April, like a wishy-washy woman unable to make up her mind, the TSA pushed the policy’s April 25th start date to an unspecified date in the future “in order to accommodate further input from the Aviation Security Advisory Committee.”

To furlough or not to furlough is no longer the question!

Also this month, the FAA announced it had no choice but to furlough 47,000 agency employees, including nearly 15,000 air traffic controllers. It was all part of an effort to save $600 million annually. The furlough lasted about a week. As flight delays piled up, the ire of the traveling public grew. Not only that but the predicted savings just wasn’t there as on-duty air traffic controllers worked overtime to meet demand. At this point Congress approved legislation to put furloughed controllers back on the job.

What about those air traffic control towers? No news is good news?

What about them? Though air-traffic controller furloughs ended quickly, no one seems to know yet whether the legislation that untangled the flight delay mess also addressed the 149 small airport traffic-control towers slated for reduced hours or closure as of June 15. Will we see a reversal on this too?

How’s the weather out there? Sorry, can’t say for certain!

U.S. airports also face the loss of FAA contract weather observers (CWOs) as the FAA moves to shut down the CWO program, which provides supplemental and backup weather observations to those produced by automated weather observation systems. A total of 121 airports will ultimately lose their CWOs in several rounds of closures, starting in May and continuing through August. FAA tower controllers will supposedly perform these weather observations instead, though the FAA has already suggested that airport operators may need to provide supplemental weather observers to collect weather data as well. Cloudy skies ahead?

Whatever side of the political fence you lean on, it’s hard not to look at the happenings on Capitol Hill, scratch your head and wonder: Has everyone taken leave of their senses?

It’s time to talk politics people. It’s time to make sure your voice is heard (no matter where you stand with your beliefs). It appears the folks in Washington need some help making up their minds. And remember, it’s safe to do this as long as you are not sitting down to Christmas dinner at my parent’s house!