Friday, November 28, 2008

Speaking of Turkeys

I’ve been trying to educate myself on some of the technical aspects of NextGen and I keep stumbling across some confusing pictures. Take this one for example:

I worked as an air traffic controller for 25 years and this picture tells me absolutely nothing. As a matter of fact, this web page from the FAA has a whole series of pictures that tell me absolutely nothing.

Merging and Spacing

I did “merging and spacing” my entire career -- for CLT and ATL. The picture is from a web site about ADS-B -- “A collection of images related to the ADS-B program. “ -- but it could just as well be about radar. Or even non-radar for that matter. It wouldn’t explain those well either.

For more pretty pictures you can visit a different site -- Catchy huh ? This one is more sophisticated because they’re trying to make money as opposed to just spending it. Scroll down to the section entitled "SATELLITE-ENABLED ATM USING ADS-B" and take a look at the graphics. See if you figure out why a “satellite”/“space-based” system needs over 700 Ground Based Transceivers (GBTs) in the United States alone.

While you’re there, let’s think about a different angle. ADS-B is supposed to replace radar. It won’t, but let’s say it does. Let’s say ADS-B lasts 50 years like some of the FAA’s radar sites have. How much will it cost to lease the property and maintain the equipment at 700+ sites ?

That is probably unfair of me in that some of the GBTs will be put on oil rigs. I guess when the oil is gone nobody will want to fly over the Gulf of Mexico.

Don Brown
November 28, 2008

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