air traffic control, air traffic controller, airline disaster, airplane, America's youth, American Youth, child labor, child soldiers, children in tower, commercial airlines, exclusionary policy, FAA, Federal Avaiation Administration, John F. Kennedy International Airport, suspend controller, underage air traffic controller
A recent incident involving a young boy directing flights at John F. Kennedy International Airport has created a media-wide sensation. The affair has resulted in the suspensions of an air traffic controller and his superior, as well as forcing the Federal Aviation Administration to clarify its position on minor-age controllers. The FAA now maintains that children, no matter how precocious, presentable or well-mannered, do not possess the requisite skills to successfully perform the duties of an air traffic controller.
This is particularly upsetting to Americans under eighteen years old, who currently comprise about a quarter of the US Population. After wading through a century of aviation journalism, Promethean Times was unable to find even a single example of an underage controller contributing in any way to an airfield catastrophe. Despite this marked lack of evidence, the FAA is standing by its exclusionary policy.
Contrast the sterling service record of the young controllers with that of their franchise-age counterparts. Aviation history is replete with dozens of disasters easily avoided if not for the actions of a careless–and adult– air traffic controller. This disparity is both obvious and unfair, and yet no one talks about it.
It’s tempting to say, “It’s just the air traffic controllers–my child isn’t an air traffic controller.” Yes, today it is only the minor-age air traffic controllers. But can we afford to trust that the rapacious demands of the safety cabal will be satisfied by the sacrifice of a single industry? How long until those sinister eyes turn upon another vocation they deem unsafe? Imagine a world which requires that emergency room anesthesiologists be adults. Where the youngest commercial airline pilots are in their late twenties. Where Alaskan crab boats do not ring out with the laughing voices of children. Where firefighters and police officers are old enough to shave.
Sound ridiculous? It’s closer than you think.
America long-ago ceded dominance of the child-soldier industry to more lightly regulated outfits in Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of Latin America. Today, another industry has shut its doors to America’s children. Societal prejudices against minors is on the increase, giving rise to barriers which effectively prevent most children from taking dangerous or high stress jobs for as many as eighteen years. Because of this America’s youth are struggling to compete with their above-eighteen contemporaries. It is a national tragedy that we should even be discussing these things in the supposedly enlightened 21st Century. Our children deserve better.