US federal incompetence screwed the airlines, as well as the majority of their passengers, today — now consider the bigger picture

© 2023 Peter Free


11 January 2023



The FAA's NOTAM system temporarily blew up today


Of course, being the federally controlled United States — where no one ever probes Reality, probabilities and five years forward — there is no backup system.


It seems likely — given the United States' now long history of infrastructural bumbling — that nothing much will be done to fix our core stupidity problem.



What is NOTAM?


In the below-cited video, commercial 747 pilot Juan Browne explains what NOTAM is and how it is used. The flight delay and flight-cancelled graphs that he presents visually characterize what he calls the 'misery index':



blancolirio, FAA NOTAM Outage! 11 Jan 2023, YouTube (11 January 2023)



In brief, when NOTAM stops, so does air travel. With long downstream effects.


For instance, notice Browne's comments about airlines having to substitute air crews, due to the long delays — which create duty time overages — that today's NOTAM's outage will cause.



Reason magazine gave us some history


Christian Britschgi wrote that:



Critics say the NOTAM system creates safety hazards by overloading pilots with hard to read and superfluous information while failing to alert them to real hazards.


Long before today's outages, the FAA's NOTAM system was criticized for being an outdated mess.


Created in the 1940s, it's intended to alert pilots to breaking information about their flight, such as a closed runway at their destination or a light being out on an air control tower. Pilots are supposed to review these NOTAM reports before taking off.


Pilots and aviation professionals complain that the notices they receive from the system are overly long and poorly organized.


Critical updates about a closed runway can be tucked deep inside a 100-page report full of irrelevant information about grass cutting at the airport.


The reports are also written in a hard-to-read, all-CAPS script of abbreviations, codes, and contractions.


The FAA has a history of dragging its feet on modernizing its air traffic control technology, says Marc Scribner, a transportation researcher with the Reason Foundation (which publishes this website).


"We're about two decades behind peer countries," says Scribner of the U.S.'s air traffic control technology.


"And the problem is not getting better."


He notes that most other rich countries use electronic flight strips to track flights, whereas FAA controllers are still stuck using paper flight strips.


A partial transition to electronic strips won't be complete until at least 2031.


© 2023 Christian Britschgi, Aviation Groups Have Complained for Years About the Outdated FAA Alert System That Crashed Today, Reason (11 January 2023)





That's American Government's idea of globally competitive timeliness?



An indicative point — NOTAMS' all caps communications habit


Literally speaking, only idiots communicate in all capital letters.


This takes the US military's idiotic fondness for (mission-wide) incomprehensible acronyms to even higher levels of sheer mindlessness.



The moral? — American political leadership is comprised, predominantly . . .


. . . of a group of warmongering neocon dopes and Congressional self-dealers, who — in spite of consistent evidence to the merit-dismissing contrary — think that it is still their right to rule and pillage the planet.


In truth, we cannot even keep our own airlines flying. Presumably, because we are too slow-witted to look, think and invest ahead.


This peculiar national character trait — which combines jingoistic conceit with a neoplastic form of avaricious imbecility — does not augur well for the future.