One of Jetwhine’s earliest supporters – Matt Thurber – sent us this piece, one that I’m happy to publish. Matt is an old friend and a senior editor at Aviation International News, where I’m also a long-time contributor.
This piece would be disturbing in any environment, but in one where the new Administrator Randy Babbitt has only been in the left seat for less than a month, I’m honestly shocked. I thought when the topic was aviation safety, that we were all playing on the same team, but perhaps not. I also thought the public affairs folks at FAA had more integrity than this. Maybe that transparency memo didn’t make it over from the White House.
Rob Mark, editor
Yesterday, the FAA announced that it is holding a “call to action summit” on Monday June 15 to “improve airline safety. The day-long session will foster action and voluntary commitments in several areas of flight safety including standards for pilot training and performance. Secretary LaHood and Administrator Babbitt will be joined by representatives from the major air carriers, their regional partners, aviation industry groups and organized labor.”
The FAA goes on to explain how this meeting is being held. First there will be opening remarks by DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. Then after these opening remarks, according to the FAA press release, “Members of the media will be escorted [my emphasis] from the room following opening remarks. The meeting is closed to media.”
Nicely done, FAA. In the age of “nothing improves safety like transparency” and oh, by the way, this is a free country with a free press, the FAA is going to escort members of the media out of the meeting. Now, I understand that the airline, aviation association and union people might feel constrained if the media were allowed to attend this meeting, so I’ll let that part go, even though I’m eager to hear what they have to say (email me – as well as Rob here at Jetwhine of course – with details, if you manage not to get escorted out).
But couldn’t the FAA have handled this a little better? Why announce that you’re holding a closed meeting ahead of time? Or why invite the press then escort them out? A better way to handle this (and this isn’t my idea, so don’t give me credit) would be to hold the private meeting first, then invite the press in to ask a few questions and get a briefing. This way, everyone gets to participate, the press doesn’t feel like they aren’t wanted (which they aren’t, by the way, I’m not stupid), and no escortation is involved.
I can’t help wondering: whose great idea was this anyway? I’m going to have to go with our new FAA administrator, Randy Babbitt. Okay, Mr. Babbitt, communication in any form is always good. But dissing the communicators, not good. May I respectfully suggest: try again.