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View Diary: Flight Engineer - A Dying Breed (106 comments)

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  •  I know how difficult it can be… (15+ / 0-)

    (mouseover identifiers to decode)

    …to go from being an experienced, full performance level, head of the operation person back to almost the ground floor. I faced the same challenges when I transferred from ZJX to ORD. I had five years in the agency (more than many at my new location) and three of them were as an FPL.

    Obviously, you had the wisdom and strength of character to suck it up long enough/well enough to get back to the left seat. I did not.

    Nevertheless, after the bruising five month honeymoon, when they cut me loose, at least I got to go back to a center (ZAU) and did the next 25 years there. Good for you on being able to manage what you encountered. I still look back and wonder "what if?"

    The answer, of course, is I was fatally flawed. Still am. I now think back to my time before the FAA when I was trying to hire on in the airlines. I never would have made it past the interview, even if their standards had sunk low enough to hire a 200 hour Commercial/Instrument candidate.

    •  Ok, how did you do that? (5+ / 0-)

      the mouseover thing?

      •  Ha, ha…actually it's very easy (4+ / 0-)

        Here's the code for ZJX

        Your key item is the ZJX.

        First surround it with a span element, e.g.:


        Then add the descriptive stuff as a "title" attribute remembering to enclose it in quotes:

        <span title="descriptive stuff">ZJX</span>

        The title attribute is very useful in other HTML code, too. For example, you can (and should) include it in an <img> element with a description of the image on mouseover.

        I also always use the same text in a <alt> element, which displays before the image pops up on loading and is also picked up by code readers for the vision impaired.

        I frequently use <title> in anchor elements, too, as it can provide a better descriptor of what the link is supposed to take you to than seeing the URI in the bottom bar of your browser.

        Very helpful technique. I'd actually been employing that long before I discovered CSS and the <span> element.

        (I hope the HTML displayed properly. some systems parse the < and > even if you "disguise" them as HTML entities. Consequently, instead of seeing the code, you see the result. I won't be able to tell if it works—even with "preview"—until after I post the comment, at which point it's too late to fix. Here we go…)

    •  Hmmm, You retired in '97? (8+ / 0-)

      I worked contract to the FAA putting in TMA and ERIDS into ZJX, ZSE, ZLA, ZOB, ZAB.  I turned down the ERAMS project as it would have taken me away from home for too long.

      FAA ARTCC work can be stressful.  The new guys are put thru the wringer before they actually get to run a scope (and are low paid until you get to level 4-5).  And you have be done with training thru level 2 by age 30.  And you have to put up with constantly rotating shifts.

      "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

      by doingbusinessas on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 11:24:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Age requirement (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Powell, Mr Robert, Cobbler

        Unless it's been changed since very recently, the 30 thing is the oldest you can be (not yet turned 31) to get hired. I don't recall there ever being an age requirement to certify.

        Although the facility, if not the whole FAA, had adopted the "train to succeed" philosophy sometime in the '80s, which kept people around well beyond what would formerly have been their "sell by" date, it was always based on training hours and never on age. That could have been construed as "ageism" as opposed to the hiring limitation, which clearly was not (by statute).

        My whole story is in the My ATC Story link in my sig below, if you're interested.

        •  I have looked thru your site... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and find it very interesting.  I will dig into your stories later this week.  

          Well now the age to finish the training is 30.  Your allowed to "retire" after you have done 20 yrs, but they incentivized to keep everyone going as there are few replacements in the system.  Most are coming out of the Military system right now.  There are lots of guys going on into their 60's and doing the training/admin stuff after they cannot do scope work any longer.  

          My main station I worked out of was ZSE.  Do you know some of the guys from there?  


          "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

          by doingbusinessas on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:31:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Again, confessing I've been gone 15 years… (0+ / 0-)

            (mouseover identifiers to decode)
            The controlling legislation during most of my career was Public Law 92-297. That was when we first got an early retirement (under the Civil Service Retirement System—CSRS). In simple terms, controllers (and some other government employees—principally LEO, I believe) were permitted to retire at age 50 if one had 20 years service, or at any age with 25 years. I could have retired at age 47.

            With that law (I think—it might have been later legislation), they changed the maximum years for a controller to 25 or 30. While I (having hired on prior to PL 92-297) could have worked as a controller as long as I wanted, all those hired after it (1973, I believe) had to retire from active ATC at 25 (or 30) years.

            And I think it was 25 because there was a great exflux of controllers in 2006 who had been hired in 1981. The fact that there was on onerous set of Imposed Work Rules put in place that year guaranteed a rush out the door, and the system is still hurting, as there were still a lot of people hired in '82 and '83 who became eligible soon after.

            The election of 2008 got rid of the IWR and I haven't heard much about conditions since, except for the ERAM pains. Deja vu, in many respects.

            I didn't know very many controllers in other facilities, and none that I recall in ZSE. Even many of the ones I knew in ZJX were gone by 1981, and by the time I retired, I doubt there were a half dozen left from my time. I recently started having lunch with a bunch of FAA retirees, one of whom was  at ZJX the whole time I was there, but he was AF, so I never knew him then

            •  New stuff for the ARTCC... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              TMA - Traffic Management Adviser.  A new set of servers/workstations that start tracking the aircraft from up to two zones away to get them into the "pattern" for landing where they spend the least amount of time in holding patterns.

              ERIDS - Remember that bookcase at the end of every row?  Ever manual you had to look at, every map you had to go find, etc.  Are all now online with a touch screen system at the scopes.

              ERAMs - Replace the S390's they have with two long racks of equipment (about 1500)  to do the same thing they did.

              "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

              by doingbusinessas on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 09:29:49 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

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