On 25/04/2016, in SESAR's Palace, by steve
The User Driven Prioritisation Process (UDPP) came to life in an exercise which took place in March 2016. Before we go into the details, it is worth mentioning that the idea was born during the SESAR definition phase (anyone still remembering what that was all about?) and it took only 9 (NINE!!!) years for SESAR to reach this point… I wonder how many more years will pass before UDPP is actually implemented. Of course, as some have pointed out, 9 years is not so bad after all. Micro Offsets needed 15 years and Time Based Separation 23 years… so what is 9 years compared to that? Anyway, in case the SESAR folks happen to read this, a small thank you note to Alex would I am sure be appreciated!
UDPP aims to provide more flexibility to airspace users in case of delays on departure, en-route and arrival in capacity constrained situations (for example due to adverse weather or industrial action). It takes place in a Collaborative Decision Making context. The UDPP Step 1 process (including slot swapping) covers flight exchanges within a sequence list at a point of congestion (departure, en-route, arrival), and is now being progressively deployed. The UDPP Step 2 concept provides an additional layer of flexibility by allowing an anticipative management of airspace user flight schedules in delay situations.
The project aims to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the different actors collaborating in UDPP (airspace users, Network Manager, FMPs, airports); ensuring a smooth integration with other Demand and Capacity Balancing measures; and further validating performance.
On 04/04/2016, in Anniversaries, by steve
Last Friday was 1 April and it was not the 13th… but for us, it still held special interest even though we are not in the business of witchcraft and other silly beliefs. It was Friday and the 13th birthday of BluSky Services!
Yes, it is hard to believe, but for 13 years this company has paid our breakfast and dinner while keeping us busy and growing steadily in recognition as a center of knowledge and professional excellence.
BluSky Services was born in the middle of one of the deepest crises the aviation business had ever seen. The aftermath of 9/11 was still with us very much, airlines were fighting for survival and only one thing was certain, the world we had known would be no more. What would follow was anybody’s guess.
Into this uncertain landscape landed BluSky with a mission that was as clear as it was simple. There was and always will be a future for aviation and the best way to forecast that future was in actually making it! Thinking out of the box, defining new concepts and driving new technologies were the tools BluSky was going to employ to help create the future others would not even dare to forecast.
Lofty aims indeed especially for a new company nobody had heard of.
Luckily, the company name and the name of its founders were quickly associated and this brought a certain initial patina to the brand… Let’s just say we did not have to start building from square one!
My network of friends and colleagues was a big help in the initial phase but also in later years. Of course falling back on the glory of previous achievements would never have cut it and we had to work and fight hard to prove to the world, again and again, that we did believe in what we preached and that quality and timely delivery were not empty promises but the rules we lived by.
On 25/02/2016, in View from the left seat, by phil
When accidents happen, sensational stories are splashed all over the popular press, ‘someone must be at fault, something must be done,’ shout the headlines. Justice, whatever that may be, is demanded in a form that satisfies the simple man’s sense of public retribution. Unfortunately, this is a very primitive response that does little to help the cause of air safety. The real issues are usually far too complicated for the media and even, sometimes, for many professionals to understand fully.
Air accident investigation is a painstaking process – it takes time. Even after exhaustive analysis, it is often impossible to reach definitive conclusions, and even harder to learn and apply the appropriate lessons.
But when death and injury occur, the misery extends not only to the innocent victims and their families but also to the professionals who bear the responsibility for maintaining a safe operation. Where is the dividing line between malpractice, negligence, a genuine mistake – or – totally unforeseen circumstances? Spare a thought too for these victims of sheer happenstance, who, even when totally blameless, may be left with a hideous sense of guilt, sometimes with tragic results.
Phil’s latest story explores some of these issues.
“Yes, I knew him well – and his wife. I was at school with him.”
Malt whisky, candlelight, cigars, a good dinner, and five men around the table after the ladies had withdrawn. The conversation had been rather more stimulating than usual – Iraq, the Falklands War, did military interventions ever do any good? Some hospital stories (de-identified of course) from the medics, and a fund of intriguing insights into human foibles from our host, the judge, told with wit and relish. He was long retired having served in the High Court, and liked the old-fashioned ways. The others were still working; a surgeon in a big hospital near Heathrow, a local doctor (not mine but a good friend) who had worked in Africa before settling into a quiet country practice near Beaconsfield. A businessman, I can’t remember what in but also a town councillor, a solicitor in a well-known London firm, and me, a pilot with British Airways. Our wives were women to be reckoned with too. The surgeon’s wife taught classics at a leading girls’ school, the doctor’s was an investigative journalist for a national newspaper, the town councillor’s was a vet, though rather too full of the importance of her husband’s position, and the solicitor’s wife worked with mine on various charities.
The conversation had drifted onto the difference between accidents and negligence. Had Maggie’s government been negligent in not foreseeing Argentina’s invasion of the Falklands? When might a surgeon be deemed negligent if a patient died? Was the council negligent in not erecting notices near a weir before a small boy fell in and drowned? When should individuals exercise common sense to avoid obvious danger? What is obvious and what is not?
On 08/02/2016, in Tower chronicles, by lajos
In the unlikely event that someone was missing my writing in 2015, my apologies. I could blame my extremely busy work schedule or my private life for not having had the time to write, but I am afraid I would not be completely truthful. To be perfectly honest, I got a bit too lazy… yes, this is what covers the actual facts best. To make up for having been so remiss, I will try to provide you with a look-back on the year, the way our great politicians have taught us.
So, what has transpired in the life of the Ferihegy control tower in 2015? If I said basically nothing, I would not be far from the truth. This was a year of treading water, something one may consider both good and less good news. That the monumentally idiotic 4NM rule is still with us is something I consider a personal failure of mine. Late November of last your it looked like the end of this incredibly stupid madness (and I am avoiding using the word “rule” on purpose), something that has been the source of untold frustration to the air traffic controllers, due to some strange administrative error, it is still with us. Peculiarly, this particular paragraph had been removed from the amendment proposal in 2014 but in the end all through the years it was not actually removed from the applicable provisions.
The same thing had happened now.
On 30/01/2016, in SESAR's Palace, by cleo
Reading the news coming out of Europe’s premier money burner program, SESAR, is always entertaining but when they reinvent the wheel, it is especially so. Never mind that they work with a Master Plan for the future ATM in Europe that keeps repeating things strategy documents 15 years ago were already showing as urgently needed, they have now discovered the need for a next generation communications system that we knew was essential since 1994.
A consortium led by ENAV and composed of Aena, Airbus, Air France, DFS, DSNA, EasyJet, LFV, Lufthansa, NATS, SITA and the University of Salzburg have concluded that the technology currently mandated for air/ground digital link in Europe, VDL Mode 2, will only cut it for a time with four frequencies but even then, it is highly recommended to “prioritise the development of the next generation of datalink technology within SESAR”.
SESAR woke up to the need to do something as a result of the problems encountered with the current implementation of VDL Mode 2 and the resulting hick ups in CPDLC usage. It is commendable that they have reacted and the conclusions of the study are to be welcomed. The proposal to resolve the current problems to ensure that the usage of VDL Mode 2 can be assured for a reasonable length of time is of course the right one, after all, the airlines have invested heavily in this technology and so far have had zero benefits. The recommendation to start working on a next-generation communications system is even more welcome.
What the news fails to mention is that the proposal to start working on a new system has been around for decades and in fact EUROCONTROL had started to work on such a system, work which was relegated to the dust bin when the powers that be decided to kill EUROCONTROL in favor of the brave new world centered on SESAR.
On 18/01/2016, in NextGen, by steve
North Carolina was “first in flight” when the Wright Brothers took to the skies at Kitty Hawk, and now it’s leading the way to the next generation of air traffic control. NextGen procedures are helping flights operate more efficiently at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), improving on-time performance and decreasing emissions.
The Charlotte Metroplex project includes new arrival and departure procedures for CLT and surrounding airports in North Carolina, South Carolina and southern Virginia. Procedural changes in Charlotte are at altitudes between 3,000 and 14,000 feet and do not affect the airport’s voluntary noise abatement procedures.
Metroplex initiatives such as this are a key element of the FAA’s NextGen air traffic control modernization, which is replacing decades-old ground-based navigation with more precise procedures based on satellite navigation. Similar projects are in place or underway in 12 major metropolitan areas nationwide.
Based on July 2015 data, the FAA estimates the changes in Charlotte will result in 28,000 fewer metric tons of carbon in the air each year, which is equivalent to removing more than 5,000 cars from the road. Airlines will consume 3.3 million fewer gallons of aircraft fuel, valued at about $9.4 million.