In a nutshell, the FAA is investigating an air traffic controller who brought his child to work and allowed him to speak to two airplanes. A statement from the FAA included, “This behavior is not acceptable and does not demonstrate the kind of professionalism expected from all FAA employees.”
From this condemning statement, you could be led to believe that the air traffic controller brought a wired and rambunctious child to work, turned him loose, and let him direct air traffic willy-nilly for the day while the rest of the gang kicked back with beers and watched cartoons in between lengthy naps.
In a recording, the controller’s child is heard saying “Jet Blue 171, cleared for takeoff” and then later, the pilot telling the child he did “an awesome job”.
Methinks this little boy didn’t spontaneously totter over to any communication tools and, off the top of his whimisical head, blurt out, “Jet Blue 171, cleared for takeoff!” just to see what would happen. It’s pretty evident that the boy was repeating instructions that his father gave him to feed to the pilot, the same instructions his father would have delivered himself had the child not been there.
Now, would I like a virtual day care romping wildly about air traffic control towers? Not particularly, especially on days I have any flights planned. And if this child had interrupted his father’s work or caused disturbances and distractions, then he absolutely should not have been there. I didn’t see any indication in this article that the father did not maintain a controlled environment or that his son caused any safety issues by his very presence.
Unfortunately we always have the give-an-inch, take-a-mile morons who would decide to bring their children to work, yet maintain no more order in the workplace than they can manage at home (which is none) and cause mass hysteria, meltdowns and multiple plane crashes. So naturally procedures need to be in place, especially in work environments such as an air traffic control tower, for any visitors, children or otherwise, and stringent supervision of both adult and child visitors.
Think about it: that brat flinging him or herself to the floor of the grocery store, or demanding that someone buy something, or shrieking at the top of his or her lungs in the store, restaurant, movie, etc….would you want that kid at their parents’ workplaces, no matter where they work? Probably not. But then again, I wouldn’t want that parent in their workplace either, if that is the best they can manage a situation.
I’ve seen Gary take the kids to work with him. They watch him closely, take pride in helping him, brag about which task they completed, and love the time they are spending with him. Other people he has worked with, as well as customers, light up when they see Gary with one or all of the kids in tow, and it leads to being asked later: “Where are the kids?”, with a quick look around like we stash them behind a bush and pull them out on demand.
The FAA will likely feel the need to take action against this father for the simple reason that other parents may or may not have been able to closely supervise or maintain order with a child present, and permitting him to bring his son to work could be construed as a green light for others to do the same, regardless of their ability to parent. I don’t believe that is fair to this father or to his son.
I’m in my 30’s and think it would be cool as hell to clear a plane for landing; how exciting must that have been for a young child? How much more did he learn by being there, vs. reading a book or being told about what his father does? How important did he feel being able to share that time with his father?
I’m not suggesting that every parent be given free rein to bring their children to work as they see fit, since I don’t believe every parent is capable of offering the supervision necessary to maintain structure or order, at home, work, or elsewhere. It is simply a shame that these parents destroy such opportunities for all.