Air Traffic Controllers Try to Walk in Pilots’ Shoes

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A Commercial Airliner Comes In For A Landing Past The Airport Control Tower In Denver, Co.

At long last, air traffic controllers will get a taste of how it feels on the other side of the mic: they’ll get to jump into the cockpit.

A program that made cockpits as open and welcoming as bank vaults was axed in post 9-11 safety regulations, but is now being resurrected by the FAA. It’s seen as a way to improve things on the frequencies that help regulate traffic at national airports.

With flying as a hobby becoming harder to pursue due to rising costs, increased bureaucracy and an ailing economy, fewer controllers have a direct feel of what it’s like to fly an airplane and what kind of workload pilots face.

(More on Newsfeed: Expert: FAA Short on Cash, Skimping on Training and Long Aware of Sleeping Workers)

Previously called “FAM” flights, short for familiarization, the program has been under ice for 10 years, but it was once popular within the the controller community.

“We tell the airplanes what to do, and they make it work. And if controllers got back in the cockpit, we would understand what it takes to make that request work,” said Derek Bittman, an atlanta based controller, to CNN.

(More on NewsfeedReport: Aircraft Carrying Michelle Obama Aborts Landing After Controller Mistake)

NewsFeed rejoices for the initiative, as the story reports that as much as a third of the controller workforce has never been in the pilot’s seat. The FAA has been under quite a bit of pressure lately, due to dozing controllers, but responded with new rules for controllers’ rest and by mandating that flights with Michele Obama and vice president Joe Biden be handled by the supervisor controller on duty, reports AvWeb. The Air Force One already flies under this arrangement, which it makes NewsFeed ponder on why they waited until now to implement the procedure. (Via CNN)