Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Air Traffic and Other Problems..

Most of us don't even see or know that there are people in a tower far far away conducting air traffic for incoming and outgoing planes.  Usually we see the men or women on the tarmac in their yellow vests with their orange batons clearing the path for the next plane.  Yet, it's the people that we don't see that pilots will miss the most. In fact, air traffic controllers (those within the towers) prevent air collisions from happening.  Without these individuals, pilots will be forced to add more to their piloting agenda in order to safely travel the air skies and to land their planes.  

Due to budget cuts at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), approximately 189 air traffic control towers will be forced to close its doors.  While these closings are only happening to smaller airports around the nation, its the airport hubs such as that in Naples, southwest Florida, where vacationers and pilots will experience the most delays. By cutting more than $50 million from the FAA's fiscal budget, smaller airports will experience up to 90 minutes of delayed time during the day's peak moments.  Further more, "Without air-traffic controllers, small airports typically rely on pilots to alert each other by radio to their positions and to sequence landings. While that system works at less-trafficked runways, directors at busier airports worry about the risk of accidents without their control towers" notes writer Annie Sussman.  With little direction in the future, the likelihood of accidents will substantially increase.  While the FAA reports that they will not take any actions that will cause danger to its workers and passengers, those extra set of eyes being taken away will cause more danger than not.  This change in strategy will ultimately require pilots to be more alert.

As this article relates to this week's readings, I wanted to focus on the risks that the FAA are taking in order to save more money.  While budget cuts are a necessary precaution to prevent an economic downturn, budget cuts in the wrong sector can lead to overwhelming risks.  As noted within the "Risk: Seeing around the corners" article,  "Exploring how that risk propagates through the value chain can help management think through—imperfectly, of course—what might change
fundamentally when some element in the business environment does." Within the air traffic controlling dilemma, the risks of cutting its budget to the point where less controllers are being retained, essentially increases the risks of accidents waiting to occur.  At the same time, if only smaller airports are being affected, do the risks of cutting employees from these airports outweigh the capacity of controllers retained by larger airports?   

My question to the class is when considering risks and how they propagate through the value of chain, how are executive leaders able to determine potential risks without concrete evidence that these risks will even occur?  Small US Airports Face Tower Closures

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