Thursday, March 10, 2011

Some Interesting Facts...

...surrounded by the same old junk you know is wrong. When are these guys going to learn that the lies untruths and exaggerations that the reporter didn’t check out just make us question whether or not we can believe the other parts of the article?

CNN International has a three-part story on NextGen. Part 1:

Help on the way for air traffic jams

”Millions of consumers are so frustrated with the airline experience that they're avoiding it, and delays are part of the problem. Some 41 million potential fliers chose not to travel by air from May 2007 to May 2008, according to Geoff Freeman of the U.S. Travel Association. That translates into $26.5 billion in lost spending that could have boosted a recession-dogged economy.”

That got my attention. Can I believe it?

”The NextGen overhaul is so complicated and massive that it's often compared to the space race of the 1960s. It will take until at least 2025 to complete and will have an estimated total price of $22 billion. However, long delays and additional costs are threatening to add hundreds of millions of dollars to the project, according to the Department of Transportation.”

I don’t believe that one. I’ve already seen estimates of $50 billion. So it won’t be “hundreds of millions” over budget. It will be billions.

”Currently, planes must fly zig-zag routes to stay close to ground-based radar tracking stations. With GPS technology called ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast), planes can be tracked while flying in straight-line routes. These routes are shorter. They save thousands of hours of travel time, millions of gallons of fuel and millions of dollars.”

Just flat wrong. Everything. No zig-zags for radar. If shorter routes were going to save the airlines they would have already been saved. And just because there might be a few non-aviation folks from the Atlantic that have never thought about the fact that everybody can’t always fly in a straight line...

Now that we all have the Flick on that...let’s move on to Part 2:

Air traffic overhaul hinges on 'human factor'

”ADS-B represents a giant leap from the current pilot reliance on eyesight and air traffic control radio communication to achieve "situation awareness," a mental picture of all surrounding aircraft. With a screen in the cockpit, pilots now will be able to see the whole picture.”

Well, not quite. Perhaps the best way to think about this is to point out that the language of controllers is creeping into the cockpit. (That’s by design -- that is the design -- for some people.) It’s actually “situational awareness” (a minor error) and situational awareness for controllers is very different than situational awareness for pilots. Same concept -- different details. Pilots won’t have “the whole picture”. The controllers that hadn’t previously caught on are now wincing because they now remember what happened when pilots got TCAS. TCAS shows a limited number of airplanes on a “scope” in cockpits. It was a revelation to pilots -- how many airplanes showed up on TCAS. They thought TCAS showed them “the picture” and they started questioning controllers about what they were seeing. It didn’t go over well.

ZTL: Delta twenty four turn twenty degrees left vectors for traffic

DAL24: Where’s the traffic Center we don’t see him on TCAS

ZTL: Delta twenty four (stop looking at your TCAS and) turn 30 degrees left

Again, for those that don’t think about these things, a controller’s “scope” is now a big computer monitor. (I think they’re 20 by 24 inches.)

A pilot’s “scope” for TCAS is tiny. Even a “glass cockpit” with ADS-B won’t come close to the scale that controllers use. I thought pilots were busy enough without having to stare at another little, tiny screen. Which leads us into the next quote.

”If texting while driving is unsafe, what about texting while flying?”

I wish I had thought of that line. The only line I had come up with is that if you think the washout rate for pilots is high, you ought to see what it is for controllers. And now you want a guy that can do both -- at the same time -- while “texting” clearances instead of talking on the radio?

I guess Part 3 will be out tomorrow. It will probably tell us how all this new NextGen technology will transform us all into Superman and defy the laws of physics.

Don Brown
March 10, 2011

1 comment:

Wings2Fly said...

I can't believe I found a blogger who agrees with my interpretation of NEXGEN. I was reading the article and thought the exact same thing. More FAA propaganda via major news networks...