Sunday, December 18, 2016

Have backup plans in case of an emergency

On December 13th at his The Accidental Communicator blog Jim Anderson posted about how Bad Things Happen and Speakers Need To Know How To Deal With Them. I’ve repeatedly blogged about that topic, in posts which you can find under the label of Worst Moments. One of my favorites is a March 10, 2012 post titled How an engineer kept a power failure from derailing a speech.

A month ago the Boise Airport had an emergency - when aircraft were unable to contact the controller up in their tower. Fortunately it happened at about 2:30 AM. You might expect that no air traffic would be active then, but some medical helicopters were (perhaps to refuel).

Was there a problem with them trying to arrive and depart? No, they just went to the backup procedure of announcing themselves on the arrival and departure frequencies.

Meanwhile, the Boise Police sent four officers out to the tower to check on the welfare of the controller. A squad car tried flashing his lights, sounding both his siren and an air horn - but got no response. You might not expect them to be heard, since the reinforced-concrete tower is 295 feet high (the second highest building in the state of Idaho). Eventually they got let in, found the controller who looked “dazed and confused,” and he admitted falling asleep. Officers reportedly smelled marijuana, but drug tests were negative.

Parts of the story eventually were pieced together via requests for police reports, etc., and reported in the Idaho Statesman in a December 9th article titled Air traffic controllers take a nap and grab a snack while pilots’ calls go unanswered and one on December 16th titled Investigation of Boise airport tower silence my include if FAA Staffing rules violated. The December 9th Boise Guardian article smirked ‘Joint’ Investigation at Boise Air Tower.

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