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Old 03-06-2010, 10:02 AM   #1  
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Smile The JFK Kid Controller

The JFK Kid Controller
By Peter Nesbitt

I canít believe the media frenzy that this situation has created, and Iím even more outraged that NATCA and the FAA have not taken a different position on this matter ó Safety was not compromised, and there are other more important standards of professionalism that should be addressed within our workforce.

NATCA and the FAA posted almost simultaneous responses to this situation, and both entities threw the Controller and Supervisors under the bus:

Quote:
ďThis lapse in judgment not only violated FAAís own policies, but common sense standards for professional conduct. These kinds of distractions are totally unacceptable,Ē said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. ďWe have an incredible team of professionals who safely control our nationís skies every single day. This kind of behavior does not reflect the true caliber of our workforce.Ē ó FAA Statement

ďWe do not condone this type of behavior in any way, and it is not indicative of the highest professional standards that controllers set for themselves and exceed each and every day in the advancement of aviation safetyĒ. ó NATCA Statement
The flying public has always been allowed to visit ATC facilities in the past, and family members were welcome to come and witness the public service that we provide on a daily basis. Flying clubs, Cub Scouts, schools, churches, colleges, and individuals from other groups and professions have always been allowed to visit Air Traffic Control facilities ó even children (gasp!) were allowed to visit.

If a child was present on one of these visits, it was not uncommon for a Controller to allow the child to issue a control instruction to a landing or departing aircraft. Itís really pretty simple: ďAmerican 123, runway 17 left, cleared for takeoff.Ē I have seen this take place numerous times throughout my 23+ years with the FAA, and there has never been an accident, incident, or concern ó what an incredible opportunity for a child to experience!

Tours are generally allowed during periods of light traffic and good weather when Controllers will not be distracted by the presence of visitors in the operating quarters. Tours are terminated when traffic starts to build; when an emergency occurs; or when the complexity of traffic begins to build. Controllers and Supervisors always have the option to ask visitors to leave the operating quarters if a distraction exists.

A well-mannered child in the Control Tower is not a big deal. Air Traffic Controllers work with each other on a daily basis, and the children of our co-workers are often considered to be extended family members. We watch these kids grow; hear about their first dates; and often encourage these children to explore careers in aviation. In fact, many of todayís Air Traffic Controllers are 2nd generation Controllers ó these are the true NextGen Controllers.

I can understand the publicís initial concern. The public might envision the father of the child down in the breakroom with the child running alone and amuck in the Tower issuing Control instructions to arriving and departing aircraft ó but this is simply not the case. There is no way that the JFK Controller/father would have allowed his kid to make a transmission that placed the flying public at risk. Iíll bet you a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts that the father was standing right there; told his child exactly what to say; held and keyed the microphone in front of the child; and the child repeated exactly what the father instructed him to say.

This is exactly how we train new FAA employees to become Air Traffic Controllers. These new employees are arriving daily at ATC facilities across the country. Some new employees have pilot or aviation experience; aviation degrees of some sort; and some have absolutely no aviation or ATC knowledge. We sit behind these rookies each and every day in ATC facilities across the nation, and we coach these rookies with each and every transmission. Informally, itís called Parroting ó we tell the trainee what to say, and the trainee keys the microphone and repeats the instruction. Formally, itís called OJT ó On the Job Training.

The JFK Kidís transmissionís were better than some control instructions that Iíve heard recently.

I have not read of anyone questioning the pilotís about their acceptance of the takeoff clearances issued by the JFK Kid. The pilot is the sole authority for the safe operation of his/her aircraft, and if any of these pilots had concerns about the veracity or safety of these transmissions ó why did they accept the takeoff clearance and depart JFK for destinations unknown? Iíll tell you why ó they were not concerned because they knew that a JFK Tower Controller was there monitoring the entire situation, and that Controller would not intentionally place those aircraft in harmís way.

If this was such an unsafe operation, is the FAA going to go after any of the pilots for their acceptance of the takeoff clearances? If this was so unprofessional, are any airline managers going to sanction the pilots for their involvement or non-reporting of this apparently unsafe and unprofessional situation at JFK.

Lighten-up folks. If you want to get riled about an unsafe ATC operation, ask the FAA about the Converging Runway Display Aid at Memphis or Newark, or the fact that Memphis FAA Management allowed an unsafe practice and procedure to exist for years ó and they lied to the flying public about the legality and safety of the operation.
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:09 AM   #2  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AUS_ATC View Post
The JFK Kid Controller
By Peter Nesbitt

I canít believe the media frenzy that this situation has created, and Iím even more outraged that NATCA and the FAA have not taken a different position on this matter ó Safety was not compromised, and there are other more important standards of professionalism that should be addressed within our workforce.

NATCA and the FAA posted almost simultaneous responses to this situation, and both entities threw the Controller and Supervisors under the bus:



The flying public has always been allowed to visit ATC facilities in the past, and family members were welcome to come and witness the public service that we provide on a daily basis. Flying clubs, Cub Scouts, schools, churches, colleges, and individuals from other groups and professions have always been allowed to visit Air Traffic Control facilities ó even children (gasp!) were allowed to visit.

If a child was present on one of these visits, it was not uncommon for a Controller to allow the child to issue a control instruction to a landing or departing aircraft. Itís really pretty simple: ďAmerican 123, runway 17 left, cleared for takeoff.Ē I have seen this take place numerous times throughout my 23+ years with the FAA, and there has never been an accident, incident, or concern ó what an incredible opportunity for a child to experience!

Tours are generally allowed during periods of light traffic and good weather when Controllers will not be distracted by the presence of visitors in the operating quarters. Tours are terminated when traffic starts to build; when an emergency occurs; or when the complexity of traffic begins to build. Controllers and Supervisors always have the option to ask visitors to leave the operating quarters if a distraction exists.

A well-mannered child in the Control Tower is not a big deal. Air Traffic Controllers work with each other on a daily basis, and the children of our co-workers are often considered to be extended family members. We watch these kids grow; hear about their first dates; and often encourage these children to explore careers in aviation. In fact, many of todayís Air Traffic Controllers are 2nd generation Controllers ó these are the true NextGen Controllers.

I can understand the publicís initial concern. The public might envision the father of the child down in the breakroom with the child running alone and amuck in the Tower issuing Control instructions to arriving and departing aircraft ó but this is simply not the case. There is no way that the JFK Controller/father would have allowed his kid to make a transmission that placed the flying public at risk. Iíll bet you a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts that the father was standing right there; told his child exactly what to say; held and keyed the microphone in front of the child; and the child repeated exactly what the father instructed him to say.

This is exactly how we train new FAA employees to become Air Traffic Controllers. These new employees are arriving daily at ATC facilities across the country. Some new employees have pilot or aviation experience; aviation degrees of some sort; and some have absolutely no aviation or ATC knowledge. We sit behind these rookies each and every day in ATC facilities across the nation, and we coach these rookies with each and every transmission. Informally, itís called Parroting ó we tell the trainee what to say, and the trainee keys the microphone and repeats the instruction. Formally, itís called OJT ó On the Job Training.

The JFK Kidís transmissionís were better than some control instructions that Iíve heard recently.

I have not read of anyone questioning the pilotís about their acceptance of the takeoff clearances issued by the JFK Kid. The pilot is the sole authority for the safe operation of his/her aircraft, and if any of these pilots had concerns about the veracity or safety of these transmissions ó why did they accept the takeoff clearance and depart JFK for destinations unknown? Iíll tell you why ó they were not concerned because they knew that a JFK Tower Controller was there monitoring the entire situation, and that Controller would not intentionally place those aircraft in harmís way.

If this was such an unsafe operation, is the FAA going to go after any of the pilots for their acceptance of the takeoff clearances? If this was so unprofessional, are any airline managers going to sanction the pilots for their involvement or non-reporting of this apparently unsafe and unprofessional situation at JFK.

Lighten-up folks. If you want to get riled about an unsafe ATC operation, ask the FAA about the Converging Runway Display Aid at Memphis or Newark, or the fact that Memphis FAA Management allowed an unsafe practice and procedure to exist for years ó and they lied to the flying public about the legality and safety of the operation.
Well said. As a pilot for a major for 30+ yrs, I could not agree more
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:07 AM   #3  
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It was one of my most important aviation memories when I was a kid. My grandfather took me on a tour of the the old Heartsfield tower when I was 11.

I thought it was great that she was able to come see how Dad spends his days. I wish so many times, I could have my wife, kids or even my now 89 year-old grandfather ride along on one of my flights.
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:30 AM   #4  
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Excellent post AUS_ATC. I completely agree.
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Old 03-06-2010, 01:17 PM   #5  
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Great post. I agree 100 percent, and would have grinned about the kid spending the day with his dad all the way to AUS (where I was flying that day). Our nanny state sucks.
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Old 03-06-2010, 01:22 PM   #6  
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I agree, safety was not compromised. It was no big deal, no reason for CNN/Fox News to pick it up. But, rules are to be followed.
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Old 03-06-2010, 01:30 PM   #7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AUS_ATC View Post
The JFK Kid Controller
By Peter Nesbitt

I canít believe the media frenzy that this situation has created, and Iím even more outraged that NATCA and the FAA have not taken a different position on this matter ó Safety was not compromised, and there are other more important standards of professionalism that should be addressed within our workforce.

NATCA and the FAA posted almost simultaneous responses to this situation, and both entities threw the Controller and Supervisors under the bus:



The flying public has always been allowed to visit ATC facilities in the past, and family members were welcome to come and witness the public service that we provide on a daily basis. Flying clubs, Cub Scouts, schools, churches, colleges, and individuals from other groups and professions have always been allowed to visit Air Traffic Control facilities ó even children (gasp!) were allowed to visit.

If a child was present on one of these visits, it was not uncommon for a Controller to allow the child to issue a control instruction to a landing or departing aircraft. Itís really pretty simple: ďAmerican 123, runway 17 left, cleared for takeoff.Ē I have seen this take place numerous times throughout my 23+ years with the FAA, and there has never been an accident, incident, or concern ó what an incredible opportunity for a child to experience!

Tours are generally allowed during periods of light traffic and good weather when Controllers will not be distracted by the presence of visitors in the operating quarters. Tours are terminated when traffic starts to build; when an emergency occurs; or when the complexity of traffic begins to build. Controllers and Supervisors always have the option to ask visitors to leave the operating quarters if a distraction exists.

A well-mannered child in the Control Tower is not a big deal. Air Traffic Controllers work with each other on a daily basis, and the children of our co-workers are often considered to be extended family members. We watch these kids grow; hear about their first dates; and often encourage these children to explore careers in aviation. In fact, many of todayís Air Traffic Controllers are 2nd generation Controllers ó these are the true NextGen Controllers.

I can understand the publicís initial concern. The public might envision the father of the child down in the breakroom with the child running alone and amuck in the Tower issuing Control instructions to arriving and departing aircraft ó but this is simply not the case. There is no way that the JFK Controller/father would have allowed his kid to make a transmission that placed the flying public at risk. Iíll bet you a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts that the father was standing right there; told his child exactly what to say; held and keyed the microphone in front of the child; and the child repeated exactly what the father instructed him to say.

This is exactly how we train new FAA employees to become Air Traffic Controllers. These new employees are arriving daily at ATC facilities across the country. Some new employees have pilot or aviation experience; aviation degrees of some sort; and some have absolutely no aviation or ATC knowledge. We sit behind these rookies each and every day in ATC facilities across the nation, and we coach these rookies with each and every transmission. Informally, itís called Parroting ó we tell the trainee what to say, and the trainee keys the microphone and repeats the instruction. Formally, itís called OJT ó On the Job Training.

The JFK Kidís transmissionís were better than some control instructions that Iíve heard recently.

I have not read of anyone questioning the pilotís about their acceptance of the takeoff clearances issued by the JFK Kid. The pilot is the sole authority for the safe operation of his/her aircraft, and if any of these pilots had concerns about the veracity or safety of these transmissions ó why did they accept the takeoff clearance and depart JFK for destinations unknown? Iíll tell you why ó they were not concerned because they knew that a JFK Tower Controller was there monitoring the entire situation, and that Controller would not intentionally place those aircraft in harmís way.

If this was such an unsafe operation, is the FAA going to go after any of the pilots for their acceptance of the takeoff clearances? If this was so unprofessional, are any airline managers going to sanction the pilots for their involvement or non-reporting of this apparently unsafe and unprofessional situation at JFK.

Lighten-up folks. If you want to get riled about an unsafe ATC operation, ask the FAA about the Converging Runway Display Aid at Memphis or Newark, or the fact that Memphis FAA Management allowed an unsafe practice and procedure to exist for years ó and they lied to the flying public about the legality and safety of the operation.
We should have never heard about it.
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Old 03-08-2010, 06:34 AM   #8  
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+1 Well said.
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Old 03-08-2010, 08:09 AM   #9  
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The whole thing is an absolute non issue.

The media had a slow news day and this thing for reasons of public ignorance caught some traction.

The whole thing is simply a case of ignorant hysterical bovine scatology.

NOTE:

I am sorry if my use of the term "bovine scatology" offended any of you as I have been informed by the moderation staff that we are in fact as a group very sensitive to less than pure language and should conduct ourselves as if we are in the presence of the church lady at all times. Please keep this in mind while on the flight deck or in the presence of any and all pilots as we wouldn't want to have any of you professional pilots getting their feelings hurt and needing mental counseling for the severe emotional damage that it might incur as none of us has ever heard or muttered a less than APC certified pure adjective verb or noun in our sheltered little lives.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:03 AM   #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airhoss View Post
NOTE:

I am sorry if my use of the term "bovine scatology" offended any of you as I have been informed by the moderation staff that we are in fact as a group very sensitive to less than pure language and should conduct ourselves as if we are in the presence of the church lady at all times. Please keep this in mind while on the flight deck or in the presence of any and all pilots as we wouldn't want to have any of you professional pilots getting their feelings hurt and needing mental counseling for the severe emotional damage that it might incur as none of us has ever heard or muttered a less than APC certified pure adjective verb or noun in our sheltered little lives.

Thanks for the explanation - the forum rules are at the top of each forum if they don't suit you posting style - the easy answer is don't post here. There's always Boyles Bar and Grill where you can go round and round with the same 10 people.
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