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JFK Junior Traffic Controller

Posted By:
Paul Dowgewicz
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
149
Posts
43
#1 Posted: 3/3/2010 16:43:31 Modified: 3/4/2010 20:08:38

I'm surprised no one's started a thread on it yet. So here it is.

Link to Article 

 

This looks like it's really getting blown out of proportion. It was a tower departure station, and appeared to be a rather slow time. There was no safety risk. The working controller was still in charge. If it wasn't caught on liveatc.net, no one would have noticed.

These aren't machines controlling the planes; they're people. Bottom line-the working, qualified controller was giving the directions. The child was just relaying the information. It's similar to a proposed traffic control system where the controllers issue instructions through a computer which relays the message to a display in the cockpit. The correct message gets to the flight crew. They probably understood the messages better since it sounded different and increased their attention anyway.

It sounds like "Adios" is the word some pilots out of JFK are now using when they're switched from tower to departure.
tongueout

 



Aaron Hunsucker
NAFI MemberYoung Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
6
Posts
4
#2 Posted: 3/3/2010 19:10:08

I agree that this is not a big deal, but with all the bad publicity general aviation gets,  we all have to be very careful of things like this. It is unfortunate that we have to think twice before we make a move but that is the reality. I operate at times in and out of controlled airspace and if I had heard a kids voice It would get my attention very fast. With the easy availability of buying an aviation radio, it is possible for anyone to be close to an airport and cause a problem and in fact this exact thing has happened.

 




Tony Scholes
15
Posts
6
#3 Posted: 3/3/2010 20:15:28

This puts a whole new spin on the Young Eagles program!

Seriously, what a fuss about nothing.



John Pischl
Vintage Aircraft Association Member
1
Post
0
#4 Posted: 3/4/2010 19:06:23

I think the problem is that people expect ATC to be focused on their jobs and not running a day care center.  I think it's great that kids be exposed to aviation, but there is a time and a place for everything.  Just dropping by to get some mic time shows a lack of professionalism.



Jay Fortner
Homebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
69
Posts
22
#5 Posted: 3/4/2010 19:24:39

Hey Paul, I agree. I personally got to get a chance to go into the cabin of a 727 when I was a kid. The captain showed me the controls and instruments(wow! is there a lot of stuff in there). When I got home I played pilot for a week at least. It's one of the things that made me want to fly. That kid might become the best ATCer you'd ever want to hear someday. I sure hope Big Brother doesn't scare this young'un to badly. I'm not into signing petitions to regularly but if one were to come my way about this, I'll make my mark.



George Warren
1
Post
2
#6 Posted: 3/4/2010 19:26:51

This kind of hit me personally.  I had scheduled a tour of the Camarillo Airport (CMA) tower next Tuesday for twenty 6th graders.  I was called by the tower supervisor last night telling me that they were required to "suspend all tours for 90 days."  I tried to reschedule the tour with a contract tower at Oxnard (OXR) thinking they might be exempt.  Alas, two hours later a call from the OXR supervisor said no tours also. What a disappointment for the 6th graders. They've been looking forward to this for months.

George Warren EAA709446



Shannon Coleman
Homebuilder or Craftsman
69
Posts
27
#7 Posted: 3/4/2010 19:29:08

Way overblown.  What's the worst thing that could have happened - a pilot be suprised and say "say again"?  If the kid was unreadable or gave improper instructions, I'm fairly positive the captains would have questioned it.   People are just way too uptight.  Relax, a child was on JFK's ATC, the world goes on.



Donald Kusterer
1
Post
0
#8 Posted: 3/4/2010 19:37:48

First of all, the media has to blow up everything as they have 24 hours to fill, however, there is a time and place for everything and there are people in our midst who have absolutely no common sense at all, have no thought of how their actions affect others, and finally don't even realize what their actions could communicate to the public in general if the news (heaven forbid gets beyond the tower) which it will, hence, they should THINK. 

 

I have no problem with  a child being in the tower observing his parent's job, in fact I would applaud the fact that he or she was there.  But to do what that controller did, and allow a child to communicate ATC directions to any commercial aircraft, that controller should not be disciplined for allowing the act, he should be fired for STUPIDITY!   The point here is that the controller is a professional and should not just know but do what is professional. 



Dean White
Vintage Aircraft Association Member
2
Posts
4
#9 Posted: 3/4/2010 19:38:42

It's amazing to me that the FAA could immediately cancel tower tours for 90 days without any sort of process when they're so inefficient at everything else.  It seems like just a knee-jerk reaction once again by bureaucrats that don't understand what they are regulating.  I was at a FAASTeam seminar just last Saturday where we were all invited up to the tower for a visit.  I guess some dummy in DC (over 2000 miles away) uninvited us, eliminating all of the goodwill generated by a positive seminar.



Jeff Schneider
IAC Member
1
Post
1
#10 Posted: 3/4/2010 19:42:38 Modified: 3/4/2010 21:02:28

Cute but completely unprofessional. I am an airline pilot and if I knew the controller's child was giving me instructions I would refuse them and ask for a qualified controller.( Hey, maybe now that this kid is experienced he can get a hand held , tune up tower freq. and start giving instructions from his backyard) Or maybe my response would be " roger, switching freq. as soon as my 11 year old daughter gets out of my seat, giggle, giggle,adios". People, this is JFK!, not your local unicom freq.

 

 

 



Roger Halstead
Vintage Aircraft Association MemberWarbirds of America MemberYoung Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
2
Posts
4
#11 Posted: 3/4/2010 20:12:46

Any one, including pilots who got upset over this should stay out of the air.  It was not dangerous and most of the pilots appeared to think it was cute. It also has nothing to do with General Aviation unless a GA aircraft was receiving a clearance to taxi.   It's simply overblown with the FAA going into instant CYA mode in fear of the general public and the hysterical news media jumping onto the sensationalism band wagon.  No, it's not going to be some one on an HT calling without being noticed immediately by the tower.

I've had the tower vector me for traffic avoidance and forget me. I've had them tell me to follow the guy ahead when I couldn't see the wingtips on the plane I was flying, and I've had them vector me right in front of departing traffic which I questioned immediately.   Matter a fact I had the tower clear me for a circle to land in front of departing traffic on my instrument check ride.  No, I can't even get excited about them having a kid relay instruction for taxi and any one who does needs to lay off the coffee.

 

 



RDHalstead
Jim Jacobs
1
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0
#12 Posted: 3/4/2010 20:22:30

The controller committed and egregious error: he embarrassed the upper muckety-mucks in the FAA.  Now they're going to react in the typical Federal fashion of taking some draconian actions so that they can seem on top of things; so far they've tried to bar tower visits---what next?  If safety and normal operations weren't impaired all that ought to come out of this is a verbal reprimand.  Yet another tempest in a teapot brought to us by the  interplay between the media (why was this worthy of national news coverage?) and the government..  You would think that the government has enough on its plate without having to run around like headless chickens over every nonevent!



Michael Divan
Homebuilder or Craftsman
5
Posts
5
#13 Posted: 3/4/2010 20:46:31

To fire someone over this and loose a qualified CTO would be as smart as his not so smart idea of letting his kid talk on the radio. I would give him a day (or two at the most) on the beach for making a knuckle head decision.  I am shure he was plugged into the overide just like if he had a trainee on position. Smart no. The "sky is falling" no there also.



Mike Divan N64GH (RV6)
Steven LoGrasso
3
Posts
2
#14 Posted: 3/4/2010 20:55:53


sadI respectfully disagree with those who think it was harmless and funny.

I think it was distracting, highly unprofessional and potentially dangerous.  JFK is a complex and extremely busy international airport handling huge traffic volumes.  It is not a puddleville airport with six flights a day.

There is nothing cute, funny or humorous in allowing a child to relay any critical instructions to aircraft whether they are arriving, departing or otherwise.  Many lives depend upon accurate, articulate, and intelligible instructions which must be delivered in a timely and professional manner.  And if those instructions are wrong, bad things can happen.  In aviation, as we all know too well, distractions are dangerous.  One simple moment of inattention can result in disaster.  Like the old expression goes, "it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt."

IMHO- The control tower is NOT a day care center.  It is not "Amateur Hour".  It this controller wanted his children to learn how a tower functions, he could have brought them in while off duty and cleared this first with his supervisor.  And not allowed them to touch the microphone.

The FAA is perfectly justified in exerting its full weight in dealing with this matter of very poor judgement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



John Peck
Homebuilder or Craftsman
1
Post
1
#15 Posted: 3/4/2010 20:59:54

All you guys that are defending this controller are just as bone headed as he is. In today's world we professionals are supposed to THINK before giving in to impulses like letting our kids talk on the radio. This guy's supervisor should be on the carpet too just for allowing children at an operating position in a federal ATC facility. Call me uptight if you wish. This is 2010, and aviation is getting quite enough bad press without this!



Bill Schutzler
1
Post
2
#16 Posted: 3/4/2010 21:23:59

I have flown out of controlled and none controlled airports for over 50 years and do not see a problem with the inspiration of a young individual who was completely under supervision and from what I understand made all the right calls. I am wondering if the people who have a problem with this think controllers are born that way and pilots just happen to be born as a pilot. We are not talking about a 200 and a half approach here.

 



John Race
1
Post
1
#17 Posted: 3/4/2010 21:39:02

This is really unfortunate.  As an young teen in the late 1950’s I was able to ride in the cockpit of the DC-4’s,  DC-6’s even  the 707 and DC-8 (in the early years) with my dad who was a Pan American pilot.. Some years later I got a little left seat time in a 747 simulator. Yet even with all the freedom back in those days his better judgment would never have allowed me to actually handle the controls of a regular flight with passengers onboard. That was just common sense.

 

Those experiences  with my dad had a profound effect on my own decision to become a pilot myself. Not only were they an inspiration, they gave me an early seasoning that has served me well throughout my career.

 

Sadly the access to aviation workplace has been going down hill ever since. By the time I was an adult earning a living as a corporate pilot with an ATP it was forbidden for me to ride in the cockpit with my father because I was not working for a 121 carrier myself. We can thank a handful of hijackings in the 1960’s for that.

 

Today it should be obvious to everyone in the aviation industry that the trend is firmly established to lock more doors, build more fences and create more restrictions. Because of this we all have a responsibility to use our best judgment to reverse this trend rather than to perpetuate it. I find it unfathomable that this controller did not consider the implications of his actions in an environment so exposed to so many unknown factors.

 

Yes the media and the non flying public are blowing this out of proportion ….but it would be naive to think anything less would happen. It should have been enough that the controller could bring his kids into the tower to see him at work while he was on duty. Now the future of that privilege may be in serious jeopardy for generations to come.

 



Donald Stephens
1
Post
0
#18 Posted: 3/4/2010 22:00:14

 

The judgement and actions taken by the JFK controller are completely unacceptable.  There are no ifs, ands or buts about it!  If you have ever worked in that kind of situation/position you should know better.  The pilots who accepted those ATC clearances should have questioned them and asked for clarification when given in a child's voice.  The pilot is responsible for accepting them.  I could give you dozens of ATC situations that would validate this view point.  This child may sound 'cute' and harmless but being cute is not an FAA procedure.  There are valid reasons for having procedures.  It usually has to do with safety!  I give this opinion from having experience as a controller, pilot, USAF flight manager, meteorological technician, etc.
 
Then EAA President Tom Poberezny says "this isolated incident shouldn't prevent youth access to aviation opportunities while maintaining safety".  This incident has absolutely nothing to do with youth having access to aviation!  It is about very poor judgment on the part of one controller. 


David Pitcairn
IAC MemberVintage Aircraft Association MemberHomebuilder or Craftsman
4
Posts
1
#19 Posted: 3/4/2010 22:19:11

I agree with those that say having the kids use the mic was unprofessional and irresponsible given the likely (and now proven) overblown reaction to the incident.  Too bad he did not realize the ramifications of his actions.  Despite all this, if there is no rule about who can talk on the mic, then the controller did not break a rule other than to display bad judgement (which is a concern).  A rule could be made to not allow "unqualified" use of the mic and leave it at that.  Of coarse, the definition of "unqualified" could have unintended consequences.  There have been miraculous outcomes when a pilot is incapacitated and a non-pilot has to be talked through the landing by a pilot on the ground.  Would the pilot on the ground not be allowed to do it from the tower or patched in to the radio via phone line?   

I don't agree that there was necessarily a safety issue and the reaction of banning groups from tower tours is a serious mistake.  Yes a perfectly alert and interested controller with no distractions would provide the largest margin of safety however we are all human and there are likely times when controllers are less than perfectly alert or not feeling 100%.  If the controller is less than perfectly alert or is distracted, there is still not a problem as long and there is still an adequate margin of safety.  I suspect that this controller was especially alert and interested enough to offset the added distraction, especially if it was a slow period.  Had there been even a remote chance of an impending safety issue he would have taken over immediately.  Now if he had let the kids control the aircraft unsupervised, that would be of much greater concern, obviously. 



#20 Posted: 3/4/2010 22:31:02

Okay, the FAA took care of a father letting a couple of  his kids pretend to be air controllers, so now who is going to rein in the self serving worms in Washington pretending to be our Congress?



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