So, a week ago, we're told, a couple of jets "nearly missed" one another near New York City's LaGuardia Airport, coming possibly as close as one hundred feet to one another "while turning away from one another."
And it's all the fault of those ding-dang Republicans and their heartless sequester, and never you mind about any fed.bux spent on First Lady safaris or Congressional perqs: unlike air traffic control, those things are Off Limits when it's time to spend less.
How, exactly, do you fix this with money, anyway? One of the pilots involved was cleared to land at JFK -- and did not carry out that landing. Nope, he did something on his own initiative. Possibly without making sure ATC knew he was doing it. (Which is not too clever, considering the visibility in a big plane and many small ones is about like a semi-tractor or a big passenger bus , if not worse and not to mention the inadvisability of doing unexpected things with an airplane over NYC.) Assuming the air traffic radar was working, assuming the big, fancy (and probably out-of-date; some are dreadfully old but the guiding philosophy is to use older, highly reliable tech, the sky being the original Blue Screen Of Death) computer was running, assuming the controller was awake, it's a glitch; when you got in that plane, surely you understood it is not without risk. The sky is big, but over a busy airport, it's not all that big.
There was another close call in the air. Civilization got away with it again -- just like happens every day. (Or did it happen? How many millions of people with smartphones and cameras in the Big Apple, and there's no video?)
Is world. Is not safe.
1. Or a train. Hey, you know what happens when all the engines on a passenger train fail? They open the bar! And send another engine out. The visibility thing, however, is worse than my examples imply: our thinking isn't quite set up for freedom of movement -- and intersecting traffic -- in every direction. Flying an airplane is fundamentally different from operating any other means of mechanized travel.
2. This may be unfair. At one point not all that long ago, it was claimed there were still all-vacuum-tube components on some parts of the Air Traffic Control hardware, and they were not including RADAR tubes. I don't know if it's still true -- one hopes not -- but if a low-emission 6J6 or 12AT6 caused that "near-miss," you'd think someone from NTSB or Congress would be holding it up at a news conference already.
3 months ago