Friday, February 12, 2021

Arthur Wolk: New Acronyms From The Federal Aviation Administration – Same Dumb Result

New acronyms form the FAA – same dumb result. Fresh from being caught red-handed in the Boeing 737 MAX scandal that killed 346 people, the Federal Aviation Administration, ever the agency of Government with no clue about aviation safety, has a new acronym for pilots who have used the previous terminology for a century.

Instead of referring to contaminated runways as “Braking Action Good, Fair, Poor or Nil”, now the Federal Aviation Administration has introduced a series of numbers that pilots must memorize and ignore the obvious runway contamination instead.

So, for example yesterday I landed at Salina, Kansas (KSLN), where even Dorothy refuses to live anymore, and the runway condition was listed as “333.” The ATIS said patchy hard packed snow on the runway which meant to me that braking action was likely Good/Fair on this 12,000 foot, grooved, military spec. runway.

But such a clearly understandable description is all of a sudden unsuitable for the Federal Aviation Administration anymore.

Out of 1-5, “333” is meaningless and a wholly unnecessary addition to the Lexicon of confusing aviation acronyms that thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has too little to do when they are ignoring critical certification responsibilities, will be a substitute for the plain language we are all used to using.

For example, if the controller or ATIS says “braking action is nil”, that means it stinks, and you should go somewhere else. If ATIS, he or she says “braking action is good,” that means land and be happy you can likely fly again another day.

But alas nothing will change and after a few planes run off the end of a runway because the pilot mistook “333” for whatever today’s Federal Aviation Administration interpretation is, someone might just use the old descriptions again instead.

I guess we’ll just have to “Line up and wait” for the Federal Aviation Administration to change its mind, if any.

Arthur Wolk

Original article can be found here:


  1. I don't know who Arthur Wolk is but I sincerely thank him for calling out this overly bloated, overly officious bureaucracy. I would like to also offer special recognition of the FAA's Medical Certifications Division. The MCD apparently is comprised of doctors who learned some rule of thumb stuff back in the 1950's and have since stagnated there -- making the skies safer by gratuitously disqualifying pilots. My advice is to be extremely careful when reporting a medical condition to the FAA; rather, seek the advice of a qualified medical doctor as to whether or not you are qualified to safely operate an aircraft.

  2. I agree with your synopsis in the last comment. I believe that the K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple stupid) needs to be applied in many areas of aviation. Pilots to develop airmanship skills when operating and making decisions tough decisions while commanding their aircraft. Leave it to lawyers and politicians to complicate simple and obvious decisions. I know Mr. Wolk is a attorney, but he is also a Pilot and has the skills to see it from the other side as well.

  3. Very funny Arthur :) Where before I understood good, fair, nil, etc. now I carry a laminated card with these codes .