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|Weekly Update for <!----Enter Date Bellow ****************>April 20, 2001<!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>|
Weekly Update For The Week Ended April
There is simply no way for me to adequately express my deep appreciation for all the wonderful support that Jill and I have received over the course of the last week. Monday’s wake and Tuesday’s funeral were made more bearable by your unflinching generosity of spirit.
I will send cards and thank you’s just as soon as I’m able, but I wanted you all to know that your generous gifts of flowers filled Bert’s room to overflowing. It was a blessing beyond description, a wonderful scent of spring and a fitting tribute to a bear of a man with a soft touch inside. Your messages of support were shared with the family, and your cards, letters, and other expressions of sympathy reminded me again, for the thousandth time, of why I do so love you all.
I cannot possibly mention a kindness or two or I would list them all, and the list would go on and on forever. I just want each of you to know how much of a difference you made in the lives of some very special people at a very difficult time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Wednesday morning I worked on email and regular mail from 6:30 until nine, when I went over to the FAA for a briefing on a new Independent Safety Organization that the FAA is proposing for oversight of the PBO. I asked about a dozen fairly pointed and direct questions, but the answers seem to elude the agency at this point in time. We’ll see how this one goes.
At ten I met with Jane for a briefing on the new risk assessment factors we had agreed to come up with in conjunction with our new Operational Error MOU. The team has been running data on errors in a shadow mode since April 1st. If the math continues to hold up as well as it has we will sign an addendum to the MOU in the next ten days or so and transition over to new Operational Error evaluation methodology.
At eleven I met with Monte and Amr El Sawy from Mitre to discuss the Agency’s Ops Evolution Plan. The plan is available to anyone at caasd.org, and I encourage everyone to take a look. It describes in a fairly high level of detail the administration’s commitments to NAS improvements for the next ten years. The briefing was nondescript, and the architects were careful to stay away from cockpit-based separation scenarios in their planning.
I returned to the National Office just in time for a luncheon honoring Tom Farrier, who is leaving us to work for ATA. Tom has really come a long way with us in a short time. He came from a military and safety perspective and dedicated himself to reverse engineering the controller component, and he did a great job of it. He will be missed, and the search for his replacement is on. I would personally like to see a controller in this position, so if you know of anyone who recently retired with a strong safety background and the willingness to relocate to the Washington, DC area, by all means, give us a call.
I ate at my desk to take advantage of a meeting with Blackie and Dale Wright on some issues ranging from their meeting with Embraer to Free Flight to personnel issues to tax liability issues for Tech Reps and Liaisons. We’re working with the agency to mitigate that impact to the best of our ability.
I kicked Blackie and Dale out to retreive phone messages ranging from Doug Church to Susan Grundmann to Mike Bauer to Kerry Botkins to Willie Shields to Bob Taylor and several others I didn’t need followup on.
I spoke with Carol Branaman and Phil Barbarello on progress being made with respect to the PCS MOU. Carol has been all over the agency like a cheap suit insuring that the number of funded moves increases dramatically for our bargaining unit, and now the results of her labors are becoming known.
As a result of the 100+ funded moves Carol and Phil have gotten confirmation on, Carol moved forward with the Agency to free up unfunded moves for the remainder of the year. The door’s wide-open, folks.
I discussed a Training Failure and Withdrawal MOU with Phil, and then moved on to the retro piece. Since the parties jointly agreed to some new movement on the retroactivity issue, made possible by our work on the NAR and Pay Rule 59 MOUs, I put Phil to work on helping to close the deal. When last we left this puppy it was in the agency’s court, and based on other valuable considerations they have countered our proposal. Phil is working with Jeff Walukonis to get language for me to counter the latest agency submission on the retroactivity piece, and I am cautiously optimistic for a breakthrough if not an agreement in the next month or two. (Knock on wood.)
I met with Jose Ceballos, Doug Church and Ken Montoya in my office to go over our plans for the Editorial Board tomorrow, and they gave me briefing materials to study. After they left Mike Coulter from Denver stopped in to advise me that he was under the impression a deal had been reached on Denver’s six year old parking morass, and I’m hopeful and optimistic there, as well.
Thursday morning I met Doug Church at National at six-thirty for our early morning flight to Boston. We landed, grabbed a cab and headed over to the Boston Globe for an Editorial Board Meeting.
This meeting, facilitated by Hill and Knowlton and also worked by our in-house staff, consisted of the Editorial Page Editor, an Editorial Page writer, and a Business writer. The format consisted of a ten minute opening by me, followed by questions from them on every concievable subject.
I think we did wonderfully, Doug thought the same, and the Globe ran a story on staffing in this morning’s editions. The truest measure of our success will be in their editorial coverage of our issues, and their ability and willingness to include our opinions in their pieces. They seemed very receptive, and we were expecting a thirty minute meeting that went an hour and a half, so to that extent, we fulfilled our goals.
In the early afternoon Doug and I cabbed it over to MIT for a meeting with Professor John Hansmann, the Director of the International Center for Air Transportation. Professor Hansmann is a frequent panelist in congress, an often-quoted source on aviation stories, and a wealth of knowledge about our issues.
The professor let on that he was heartened by my testimony on separation standards, because he had students working on that very subject, and he was in agreement with me. The professor was kind enough to print out a copy of the student’s work, and I plan to incorporate some of it into our materials. We agreed more than we disagreed on a variety of subjects, and I believe we have the start of a strong working relationship.
From there Doug and I walked over to Professor Amedeo Odoni’s office. Professor Odoni is a highly acclaimed professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics in MIT’s Global Airline Industry Program. We had a very lively discussion of privatization, with the professor opining that the FAA could not survive in it’s present form, and that some sort of privatization model might be prudent.
I pressed him for an example, and he cited the German air traffic control system. I committed to sending him a copy of the article, “DFS: A Wasted Opportunity” from the Winter, 2000 issue of IFATCA’s Air Traffic Controller magazine. The professor seemed genuinely interested in a divergent point of view, as academics often are. We had a very useful and engaging visit. Adell reminded me that Lee Riley had been saying for years that we ought to involve universities and think tanks in our methodologies and in our missions. So far, so good.
Doug and I grabbed a taxi, flew back to DC, and were home for dinner. I mentioned that fact to the editorial board when I told them, “I know there are problems, but look at me. I had breakfast in DC. I’ll have dinner in DC. I just happened to come to work today on an airplane, like lots of other people riding the East Coast shuttles do. And by and large, the system works, and it works well. The trouble is that good days, like today, aren’t news. Bad days are.” They tended to agree.
Friday morning I still made it in to the office by six-thirty, and I still contend that I get some of my best work done in the wee morning hours.
I talked to Ron Taylor, president of PATCO, about some hiring issues, and Ron committed to sending me his ideas on how to energize the rehiring of PATCO controllers. I spoke with Jose and Doug, with Jose debriefing us on the trip and copying our notes. Man, this guy is thorough!
I spoke with Jim Pearce, President of ARINC, who was concerned because there seemed to be a misconception in the field that ARINC’s bid for oceanic was a backdoor bid for the air traffic control system. Jim called to assure me it was not, and that running air traffic control systems was not in their business model (otherwise, they’d be doing it already, in countries where their equipment is resident.) I promised Jim I’d pass the word along to our folks in Oceanic.
I met with Blackie, who seems to save up a chalkboard full of issues before descending on me, plague-of-locusts-like. We discussed ARTSIIIE, ADS-B, AOS, the ATMT/NEB meeting, Raptor data, and an ATC Modernization Day I can’t attend. We also discussed QA2000, and the Cease and Desist letter Dave Sandbach is preparing for me on it.
I spoke with Jeff and Tim, who are working some NVT issues for me. We discussed a couple of the facilities involved, and also discussed Macon and Columbus, Georgia. We will have to closely monitor the A80 situation to insure management lives up to their responsibilities. If I get the impression they aren’t, I promise you, I’ll make them famous.
Joe Fruscella called to discuss the latest proposals exchanged with the Agency on staffing, and to discuss a few other proprietary issues. I got off the phone with him and immediately called Susan Grundmann, to discuss a few pressing legal issues.
I worked through my inbox of mail, everything from union trouble in Burma to an invitation to the Paris airshow. Buried in there was even some air traffic control mail, and I managed a few of those affairs, as well. I called a member in Tucson to discuss her complaint, and then held a formal meeting with an employee.
I prepared my carryover list for the coming few weeks, and it seems to be getting smaller. Although the week was shortened I feel we got many good things accomplished, and the road trip Thursday set the ground work for many successes to come.
In conjunction with Hill and Knowlton and our internal staff we will be pursuing speaking opportunities and editorial boards for me in targeted markets throughout the summer. I am encouraging Doug to include professors, subject matter experts, and anyone who research indicates is engaged on our issues for one-on-one sessions.
Today for the first time since my election I forgot my cell phone. No calls, no pages, all day. My hip is starting to ache in withdrawal from it’s daily massage. No worries…I’ll retrieve those when I get home, and I’ll get back to you all as soon as I’m able.
I hope this finds you all healthy and happy. Thank you again for your warm and charitable expressions of kindness and support for Jill, her family and I. I will never be able to adequately express my gratitude.
God bless you, and we’ll talk to you all next week.