Something TERRIBLE about the air industry...

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Sdashiki, Nov 12, 2005.

  1. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Location:
    Behind the lens
    #1
    Just watched CNN, ill paraphrase:

    Air traffic controllers (ATCs) might possibly finally get what they have been asking for since 1990. The ability to track aircraft on the ground at their airport, in real time. Just in the same way the radar screen etc that ATCs look at all day, just not at 1000-40000 feet, instead at 0 feet.

    So basically youll have a screen that looks like a map of all the tarmac/runways/gates etc. With little blips for each "active", which I guess means either pulled away from a gate or turned "on" in some sense, aircraft. Each blip tells you the carrier/tail#/flight# etc of the plane. Without this, its up to each aircraft/pilot and the ATCs to make sure no one is taking off with someone landing, etc etc.

    One would think that this kind of thing is in place already, but no, its big towers, glass windows and binoculars with maybe some computerization.

    What struck me as so odd is that this is like common sense, especially when we have the ability to track the same info IN THE AIR, yet not 1/4 mile in front of us.

    Just had to tell you something Im sure you assumed ATCs and pilots had access to. But they dont. CNN was remarking on the fact that a couple of airports are testing these kinds of systems, but nothing is approved and even when approved the NTSB has yet to say whether it will ever get federal funding for every airport.

    LOL.
     
  2. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #2
    nah, that h/w and s/w is decades old. the effort to replace it has been constant, but these two truths have always held:
    1) the current system is reliable
    2) any new system has failed in test

    reminds me of a legacy system at a former client. i never got a crack at it, but they'd been trying to rewrite it forever. it ran on a mainframe, none of the original programmers were around, no one knew how it worked, no one could figure it out, and no one could duplicate it. it was an embarrassment, but it worked.

    afaik, they're still running that program.
     
  3. iGary Guest

    iGary

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    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    Randy's House
    #3
    We've had a similar system here at BWI for three years. Fairly unreliable in the snow and rain, but still.

    We are slated to get this new technology - it was in the local paper abot a week ago.

    The U.S. still has the safest airspace on the planet.
     
  4. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #4
    In some ways, ground operations are the hardest part of flying, especially at busy and unfamiliar airports. The FAA has really been pushing ground operations safety in recent years.

    Most runway incursions are the fault of pilots who mishear their taxi instructions or fail to ask for clarification when they're uncertain of the instructions and/or are unfamiliar with the airport layout. A more automated system for ground control at the nation's largest and busiest airports couldn't hurt, but I don't think any amount of technology substitutes for clearly issued instructions and accurate and complete read-backs by pilots, as well as good, old-fashioned situational awareness.
     
  5. tristan macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 19, 2003
    Location:
    high-rise in beautiful bethesda
    #5
    When we got a new terminal at Dulles Airport, the ATCs were complaining that we had millions to build it but not to upgrade the equipment used to manage the airspace.
     
  6. EGT macrumors 68000

    EGT

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    #6
    One time I got a jump-seat ride during landing on a flight from London into Boston Logan (KBOS). It was quite scary watching one aircraft rolling on an intersecting runway, while another was waiting for take off on our runway (4R I think, intersecting was 09?) Aircraft everywhere!

    Ground Radar is defiantly in use in some major U.S. Airports. It'll help to prevent embarrassing accidents like one wing slicing another aircraft's tail in half or whatever :rolleyes:

    What about the KLM/Pam Am accident in Tenerife? Plenty of argument for having this in place.
     
  7. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #7
    Actual collisions between aircraft, either on the ground or in the air, are extremely rare. Extremely. Not that any system can't be improved, but I don't think it makes sense to design an ATC system on the basis of how "scary" the current system looks to the untutored. It may look chaotic to you, but it is fact very organized.
     
  8. EGT macrumors 68000

    EGT

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    #8
    Untutored?! I find that quite insulting Mr IJ Reilly! :p

    I know it is organised. I wasn't saying it should be changed because it looked "scary" with an experience I had (Scary & exciting! I suppose). We had a TCAS alert and the captain gave ATC a bit of a talking to so it was a bit of a thrill for a private pilot getting a perspective of the "big stuff".

    It can defiantly be improved on the basis that air travel is on the up (haha), there is going to be a boom in regional aircraft and our airspace isn't getting any bigger. Advances both on the ground and in the air are happening and it's great to see :)

    In an industry that demands 0% margin of error, safety is the key of it all. If we can do it, why not?
     
  9. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #9
    Sorry, no insult intended. We are both private pilots then. You seemed to be speaking as someone who was unfamiliar with airport procedures. I don't get particularly nervous when I see an airplane in position and hold on an intersecting runway. Now, rolling, that would be another story. I worry more about layering on fallible technology to fix what is an essentially human problem.

    I don't believe aviation tolerates only a zero percent margin of error. Margins of error are built into the system such that zero tolerance isn't required.
     

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