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Fri, Mar 28, 2003

Overloading ATC Won't Increase Safety

One Controller's View

An ANN Reader, Mark Boyer, wrote us about one of the TSA's most-recent tricks: requiring discrete transponder codes for VFR flights in certain airspace, over what it considers the "important people" in this country:

Gentlemen, I read with great interest your account of the ADIZ and FAA controller problems in NY.

I worked in the New York TRACON for 8 years as a controller, and I can tell you, without doubt, that the VFR traffic in the area will be severely hampered. There is an element of the controller workforce who will welcome this restriction as an opportunity to once and for all rid themselves of the 'VFR nuisance!'

You must spread the word far and wide and LOUD, that if we want to protect our right to VFR flight, then we must raise every effort to prevent this ADIZ from becoming permanent status.

The FAA does not even have the capacity to handle every VFR flight on a discrete code. Even a sunny spring day brings the VFR services to a crawl. It's not making anything safer; it's just more inconvenient: They ran out of codes the very first day. They're running out of code subsets for IFR -- how could they possibly cover VFR? There's six sectors in the NY TRACON -- each sector is allocated 20 to 30 VFR codes, and that's it. The computers do not have the capacity, the needed transponder codes do not exist, and the controller workforce is not staffed to handle the regular heavy VFR traffic. Radar control positions are not staffed on a regular basis so that controllers can be on 2 hour breaks and early work departures.

I can tell you with out doubt that if you investigate this fully, you will be appalled at the waste and abuse in our FAA. We the pilots are being done a great disservice, and my fear is that we will stand by and argue the argument while our freedoms are taken away.

You are free to contact me for more information and details. ...The FAA is a needed agency with some great people, but this is an agency that is broken from within and is in need of great repair. If it is not fixed, they will not suffer, but we the pilots will. -- Mark Boyer

FMI: www.faa.gov; www.tsa.gov; www.natca.org

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