Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

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. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Friday, September 30, 2005

Something Is Wrong Here

What am I missing? Two airplanes may have had a close call in Las Vegas, and, if they did, it may have been because an air-traffic controller became confused. [reg. req'd]
WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 - An America West passenger jet taking off from Las Vegas missed hitting an Air Canada jet by about 100 feet last Thursday night, according to a preliminary report, because a controller in the tower confused two planes and issued conflicting instructions.
First, let's be clear that this is not a criminal setting. The concepts of "innocent until proven guilty" and "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" have no relevance in this case. If the FAA thinks the air traffic controller may have been responsible for a near miss, they must remove him immediately from his position. Fortunately they did:
The controller has been taken off duty and sent for more training, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, and the episode is under investigation.
While "the episode is under investigation" makes some sense, but why was the controller "sent for more training"? If the controller was confused, I don't want that person in the control room again.

Being an air-traffic controller is not the type of job in which even one mistake can be tolerated, and this message must be sent, loud and clear, to all air traffic controllers:

You must not make a mistake. If you do, people might lose their lives, and you will surely lose your job.

At the same time, if the investigation reveals that the controller didn't make a mistake and was not confused, what is the point of sending him off for more training?

Perhaps this short-term decision is just a way of marking time while the investigation proceeds, a policy to make it look as if something is being done.
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