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NYTimes: Airline Close Calls Happen Far More Often Than Previously Known

NYTimes: Airline Close Calls Happen Far More Often Than Previously Known

Old Aug 21, 2023, 6:32 am
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NYTimes: Airline Close Calls Happen Far More Often Than Previously Known

I'm sharing a ong but extremely informative article from NY Times regarding issues with controllers that have led to a plethora of near misses....Last fatal commercial accident involving a U.S. airline since February 2009, when a Continental flight crashed into a house near Buffalo, killing all 49 people on board. The 14-year streak is the longest in the history of U.S. aviation. But things are getting bad for a variety of reasons.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/...smid=url-share
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Old Aug 22, 2023, 8:00 pm
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Without raising incentives to hire more air traffic controllers, there will continue to be lapses by stressed, overworked people in the towers. Waiting for a crash to happen isn't the right answer, though I'm afraid that's what it will take to motivate any changes.
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Old Aug 22, 2023, 8:52 pm
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Originally Posted by mlbcard
Without raising incentives to hire more air traffic controllers, there will continue to be lapses by stressed, overworked people in the towers. Waiting for a crash to happen isn't the right answer, though I'm afraid that's what it will take to motivate any changes.
As you read this, someone out there somewhere, is proposing "AI" as a solution.
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Old Aug 23, 2023, 9:08 am
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Originally Posted by mlbcard
Without raising incentives to hire more air traffic controllers
I don't think a lack of incentives is the problem. The problem is that they stopped hiring controllers during COVID and are now hopelessly behind.

It takes years for a new-hire controllers to become fully qualified; three to five years, depending on facility. Wash-out rates are very high. Around 50% at the training center in Oklahoma City and similarly high at the controller's first facility.
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Old Aug 23, 2023, 9:55 am
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Moving to the Travel News forum for further discussion. Thanks. /JY1024, TravelBuzz moderator
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Old Oct 12, 2023, 5:37 am
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Originally Posted by LarryJ
I don't think a lack of incentives is the problem. The problem is that they stopped hiring controllers during COVID and are now hopelessly behind.

It takes years for a new-hire controllers to become fully qualified; three to five years, depending on facility. Wash-out rates are very high. Around 50% at the training center in Oklahoma City and similarly high at the controller's first facility.
ATC facilities have been short staffed since Reagans mass firing (fired 11,000; hired 9,000). They were never able to train controllers fast enough to keep up, especially as travel and demand increased. In 35 years, many major facilities have never come close to their full staffing level. Now, its been compounded by something that was highly predictable - the controllers hired in masse are retiring in masse. Equipment was supposed to mean fewer controllers were needed, but that hasnt happened. Sure COVID slowed down training, but the bigger problem is that now the post-Reagan controllers are gone and they didnt bring on controllers in sufficient numbers from the beginning. Its not unusual for an area to lose 5 controllers a year and gain 2. New York Center is staffed at 54%. Not particularly unusual. Many have been working six-day weeks for years. Now theyre mandatory in some areas at some facilities.

I dont know that incentives are the answer - the more you hire at once, the longer it takes to check them out given the limited number of experienced trainers and the primary need for them to work traffic. They got themselves into a bind.

(There were some incentives well before COVID. At one center, controllers received a bonus each time they got a trainee in their area checked out. I dont know how well it worked.

Some controllers who aged out, but were still able to pass the medical and had their skills were allowed one-year extensions at hard-to-staff facilities as well.)
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Last edited by l etoile; Oct 12, 2023 at 5:57 am
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Old Dec 4, 2023, 2:09 pm
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Also from the NYT

In the past two years, air traffic controllers and others have submitted hundreds of complaints to a Federal Aviation Administration hotline describing issues like dangerous staffing shortages, mental health problems and deteriorating buildings, some infested by bugs and black mold.There were at least seven reports of controllers sleeping when they were on duty and five about employees working while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The New York Times obtained summaries of the complaints through an open-records request.
https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/02/b...rs-safety.html
Unfortunately, I think it's just human nature that we will take it seriously only AFTER a serious incident.
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