Trust Your Dolly Grip!

On 30/09/2009, in Managers' corner, by andras


Recently I attended a seminar on business-coaching where István Szabó, the Hungarian director awarded the Academy Prize for his film ”Mephisto”, told us a story dating back to his early years in the business. It happened during the shooting of a film about a young couple in the 1960-s’ Budapest. The dramatic effect of one given scene required that after the first few moments, when both actors were to be visible, the camera gradually closes in on one of the two stars, the other person vanishing from the angle of the shot. Szabó was determined that this should be a no-cut scene, meaning that no “jump” is allowed from one angle to the next. However, he had no idea how to make this happen in a way that would be unnoticed  by the audience. He felt totally helpless, and not one single solution came to his mind. The shooting, well underway and progressing fluently until then, abruptly stopped. All eyes turned to him, the Master, as if asking: “What now? No instructions? No guidance?”

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Same time, same place, same level… 8.

On 30/09/2009, in Same time, same place..., by steve

View from the tower

There can be little doubt that an airport looks its best from the control tower. True, pilots may lay claim to this, insisting that nothing equals the view from the front office window of an airplane in the final stages of its approach, but for earthbound controllers, the tower is absolute tops.


The panorama afforded by the wraparound windows set at 60 or more feet above ground level is nothing short of breathtaking and the sight of the tiny airplanes, ground vehicles and people moving far below transports one back right into our childhoods’ dream world of model railways. In addition, there is very little happening at an airport without the tower people being aware of it and this tends to impart a sense of power. It is only natural that controllers in the tower should have their share of stories to tell.

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Anniversary – IFPS first flight plan treated in live operations

On 28/09/2009, in Anniversaries, by steve

15 year anniversary on 27 April 2010.

It was a rather cool and misty April night in 1995 when I found myself driving to EUROCONTROL at an hour normally reserved for rest and retrospection. The time was just past 9 p.m. when the duty supervisor of the Integrated Initial Flight Plan Processing System (IFPS) let me in… security was very different back then.

We walked to the operations room in silence but very much aware that something big was about to happen. Members of the C-watch were looking at their computer screens, technicians were making final checks but in general this was all more for passing the time until midnight GMT than anything essential. The system was ready to go. As a member of the IFPS Project Tem, I knew it was ready…

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SWIM, the external enabler – now read the book!

On 28/09/2009, in SWIM, by steve

Project1Towards the end of the SESAR definition phase the airspace users in Europe presented a paper, arguing that System Wide Information Management (SWIM) was in fact external to air traffic management and as such, its implementation could and should happen at its own rate matched to the need to ensure mximised, early benefits.

The reasoning behind this argument was that SWIM could generate major efficiency benefits by improving situational awareness and decision making even in a basically legacy system and hence its implementation should not be tied to more advanced air traffic management developments slated for later years only.

Although the document has not been updated in the past year and parts of it have now been possibly superceeded, it still contains valuable information for those engaged in the definition and scoping of SWIM. The document as such is not an official position from the airspace users even if the content had originally been thoroughly discussed with their representatives. SInce it had been presented in an open meeting, it should now be considered as being in the public domain and we are pleased to share it with our readers for the benefit of the SWIM community.

Click on SWIM DOC to download your copy.


Questionable ads banished

On 28/09/2009, in Just to let you know..., by steve

Project1It looked like a good idea… a banner that would bring context sensitive ads as visitors browsed Roger-Wilco. We tried it and it was a huge disappointment. Silly on-line games (albeit promoted with pretty girls) and dating-sites were the only stuff we got on the main blog level, clearly not the sort of thing we would want to have there.

So, the damn thing is gone, banished and will not be allowed to come back until its authors come up with something that does what it promises.


Interesting people, unusual flight plans…

On 27/09/2009, in Interesting people, by steve

Jozsef Torocsik – the first Hungarian at EUROCONTROL

What were you dreaming of becoming when you were a kid?

I could boast and say that I have always wanted to be an air traffic controller… but it would be a lie. I remember having admired airplanes and airports from around age 6 but my early dream was to become an archeologist. When I first got the aviation bug, I wanted to be a pilot… even more than an archeologist.Jozsef on Skype

What moved you to become part of the air traffic control family?

My attraction to aviation lasted longer than that for archeology and initially I was building model airplanes. Then one day, after a model airplane competition which as usual I did not win, I cranked up my courage and approached the pilots of the sailplanes parked on the grass of the airport where the event was being held. I was really charmed by their friendliness (the first taste of the family feeling) and soon I was contemplating how to break the news to my folks at home that I will be a soaring pilot.
Then tragedy struck… I was told after a routine ophthalmologist visit that I would need to wear eye glasses for the rest of my life.
That girls will not like me and my glasses was the second thought that came into my mind. The first one brought tears. I will never be a pilot. People with glasses were excluded even from training in those days…

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Against the gods. The remarkable story of risk.

On 27/09/2009, in Bookshelf, by steve

By Peter L. Bernstein
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
ISBN – 0-471-29563-9

Against the gods.This book is a unique exploration of the role of risk in society. The author argues that the notion of bringing risk under control is one of the central ideas that distinguish modern times from the distant past. This is a chronicle of the remarkable intellectual adventure that liberated humanity from oracles and soothsayers by means of the powerful tools of risk management that are available to us today.

The story-frame is the financial and insurance world but by extension, what is said there about risk management is of interest to anyone dealing with aviation’s own risk picture. While the book is eminently readable and enjoyable, do not expect an easy trip. Some parts might require that you slow down a little or even re-read a few pages.

With chapter titles like “Clouds of vagueness and the demand for precision” and “Degrees of belief: exploring uncertainty”, one might think this book is not for the faint hearted. But Peter Bernstein manages to treat his subject with skill and flair resulting in a book that you will not want to put down.


System Wide Information Management (SWIM) – the pretty picture

On 25/09/2009, in SWIM, by steve

SWIMSystem Wide Information Management (SWIM) is the cornerstone of the future air traffic management system. While the underlying concept of SWIM is not overly complicated, it does require a shift in thinking something that tends to result in different interpretations, some closer to the real thing than others. In the following we present an understanding of SWIM that we think is a basically correct reflection of the main features of the idea. This is being done in the hope that many who are interested in SWIM will be able to grasp some details that were hitherto less well understood. When SWIM is actually implemented, some elements might have different names but the elements will be more all less the same. What follows is not a SWIM architecture in the strict sense of the word. It is an illustration of the concept and its elements.

I am sure many of our readers will have questions or concerns, some may even find errors in this write up. Use the comment option or send is mail.

Let’s work on getting a common understanding of SWIM!

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Still banging on an open door??

On 24/09/2009, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

May be you will remember an earlier post in which we were querying why the Sesar JU wants to spend a bunch of money on test flights and other fun to find a way of tracking aircraft over the ocean. And this as a result of the tragic Air France accident earlier this year.

At the time we said that asking any good flight tracking company, like AirNav Systems would give them all the information they need instead of an expensive  study, probably free… Afterwards the cost would only be the equipment that would need to go on some aircraft plus the fees to the company selected. But spending more than 30K up front is totally unnecessary.

Have a look at this picture. Traffic over the North Atlantic on a Thursday afternoon, updated every 45 seconds… The data field at the top show that it is an Alitalia flight, on the right hand side speed, heading, times… No, this is not what you get for 30K+… This is what you can have on your PC right now for a few bucks a month.


Zoom in and you get flight data displayed alongside the position symbols. Just like labels on radar. Even the simplest version of the software is able to track selected flights…


Still not convinced?


(Before) all else fails… read the Concept! Part 3.

On 24/09/2009, in Buzzwords explained, by steve

What is TMR?

The abbreviation of Trajectory Management Requirements and an item that has been misunderstood in several ways (some quite surprising). Obviously, the CONOPS did not do a very good job of explaining this simplest of elements (mea culpa…). An aircraft flying its 4 dimensional trajectory will do so with an agreed precision and the trajectory to be flown will not deviate from the one agreed by more than prescribed limits. The aircraft system does not need to re-publish its trajectory as long as any deviation that may occur remains within those limits.

TMR is nothing more than an automated instruction to the aircraft containing the applicable limits. In other words all TMR does is set the triggers for re-publishing the trajectory. An aircraft may be given different limits as it flies, depending on the changing requirements along its trajectory, resulting in several TMR messages.

Restricting the number of instances of trajectory publishing to that actually required saves bandwidth and processing resources.

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