On 31/10/2009, in Same time, same place..., by steve
Ever wondered what that little red luggage-tag, with “VIP” printed prominently on it, was supposed to signify? Very Idiotic, oh sorry, Important Passenger. There are various ways to earn such distinction and these include flying the same line very, very often or making it to Head of State. The former may expect to have his luggage treated with extra care or extra carelessness, depending on the disposition and political convictions of the luggage-handlers, will certainly draw extra smiles and booze from the airline staff and just as certainly he or she will have no influence whatsoever on the workings of air traffic control. They are the little VIP’s, you see. Now the big VIP’s, that is an altogether different kettle of fish. Air Force One (the US president’s flight), or Rainbow (the flight of British Royalty) will certainly not go unnoticed by ATC. Though exactly how much notice they receive is likely to change from place to place. That you cannot be a prophet in your own backyard seems especially true here. Air Force One flying over the continental USA is a very different flight from the Air Force One going to Moscow, for instance.
“Big VIP’s” are treated as something really special in some parts of the world, Eastern Europe in the distant past having been a prime example. They closed whole routes and aerodromes to speed the VIP on its way and for lesser VIP’s, as a minimum, double separation from other traffic was provided. Leaders of the truly democratic nations would have probably been acutely embarrassed had they been aware of how much inconvenience the general traveling public was put to on their account in the communist countries. Leaders of these latter didn’t seem to mind, though… When THEY flew, everything else had to stop. That this could lead to utterly crazy situations, well, read on for proof.
On 31/10/2009, in CDM, by steve
Originally Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) was a simple concept indeed. Realizing that a lot of problems in air traffic management came from the simple fact that many of the partners simply did not talk to each other, it was easy to reach the conclusion: make them work together, stop decisions being made in isolation, improve decisions by making them the result of a collaborative endeavor.
It was not easy at first and people invented all kinds of reasons for not doing it… most of the reasons given were simply not valid. We will be bringing you a short history of CDM later and you will see why I am saying this. To a large extent thanks to a small group of enthusiasts (the famous original CDM group in the US), more and more airlines and airports realized that working together was far more beneficial than hiding behind ill-defined concepts of commercial sensitivities.
On 30/10/2009, in The lighter side, by steve
Those who travel a lot, and most of us aviation types do, know the feeling. Waiting in the departure hall for you connection, for your delayed flight, for zillions of other reasons. You can of course work, eat, buy presents but whatever you do, time always seems to slow to a crawl. Time is relative… Einstein was a genius for figuring this out all on his own, without an airport.
But if you look around you, at the bustling mass of humanity, you can play with thoughts like where are they going? Why are some happy and the others tearful? What are they all hauling in their bags which are all different yet also the same as dictated by the cabin baggage rules? Why are some flying with this airline and others with that? Who is that girl with the long black hair, perfect figure and enchanting eyes?
Time is starting to speed up already. As we know from Einstein, when time speeds up, strange things can happen. Close your eyes and listen to your thoughts…
On 29/10/2009, in Life around runways, by steve
The company bringing you Roger-Wilco, BluSky Services is also well known for its multimedia and video products as well as its web design prowess.
Some of our videos were created for clients who wanted to show the impossible. Like runway incursions as they were happening. Using cutting edge technology, we have recreated a number of actual events in minute detail and even created interactive versions where the show stops at the critical moments so that students can discuss what had just gone wrong. We do show them the impossible to help them avoid it ever happening again.
On 29/10/2009, in Station calling, by steve
Our concept for Roger-Wilco is to make it different. You will judge how successful we are in this endeavor but in the meantime we like to believe that we provide value to our readers in a form and with content that does distinguish us from other, aviation related sites.
This does not mean that we consider the other, sometimes long established, sites inferior in any way. Far from it! We believe that most of them are excellent and provide real value in their specific areas of interest. We also believe that Roger-Wilco is then more of a complementary place, the watering hole you will visit to read up on interesting stories and subjects of common interest either before or after visiting other sites.
In this spirit we are starting a new category called “Say again” where we will bring you news about and from those other places so that after having visited us, you may fly around the internet with a bit more focus. This is in fact the second article in the series; the first one was about an aerial photography site which you can read it here.
But now I would like to tell you about my visit to StuckMic, a site that claims to be the biggest ATC site in the world. Their choice of name is really cute. A stuck microphone (that is what “stuckmic” means) is something both pilots and controllers know all about and hence it is easy to remember.
On 28/10/2009, in Viewpoint, by cleo
OK, so those Northwest pilots were having a heated argument about company policies (at least that was reported) and they overshot their destination Minneapolis by a cool 150 miles… But what was the crew of the Delta Airlines 767 coming from Rio doing in the early morning of 19 October when they landed on taxiway M at Atlanta Hartsfield? Were they also discussing company policies? Ah this marriage between Northwest and Delta!
Taxiway M is parallel with Runway 27R and the weather conditions were good. 10 miles visibility in night conditions, no wind… The taxiway lights were on as were the runway lights. Apparently the approach lights were not switched on, who knows why? No vehicles or other aircraft were on the taxiway, so nobody was hurt. This time…
Atlanta is Delta’s home and one can assume that it was not the first time the flight crew landed on 27R there. Are statistics catching up with us (the very unlikely will also happen some time…) or are we seeing the results of a systemic problem many like to pretend does not exist?
On 28/10/2009, in Same time, same place..., by steve
Air traffic controllers, just like aircrew, have to meet vigorous health standards to be allowed to practice their trade. At most places, even before entering the training course, prospective controllers are sent to specialized medical institutions where a careful evaluation is made, not only to check that the candidate has the required number of ears and eyes but also to make sure, via various aptitude tests, that his personality is the kind that can, in theory, be “corrupted” to become that of an air traffic controller.
When these aptitude tests were still fairly new, a lot of people, not only controllers, believed that they were a waste of time. This negative opinion had been partly due to a low level of experience in matters of air traffic control on the part of the shrinks concerned, a situation which tended to produce rather poor results at the end of the selection process. Though there were places where things had turned out better, our first encounter with scientific selection had been a definite disaster.
The psychologists assigned to the job had about as much awareness of flying as a cabbage growing under the final track… The poor dears wanted to set up a grading, a yardstick to which new applicants could eventually be measured, and to this end a bunch of experienced controllers were selected on whom they would run their tests, with the results to be considered as falling into the acceptable level of performance.
On 27/10/2009, in Viewpoint, by cleo
You have all seen the news; Northwest Airbus misses Minneapolis with crew preoccupied with whatever they were doing… But this is not such a big deal. Listen to the following story.
In September 1995 I was out walking the dog (we had a wonderful Siberian Husky called Cyrano) when I noticed a DC-10-30 in Northwest livery taking off from Brussels. We live near the airport and our walks with Cyrano always had a dual purpose. Sniffing for the dog, plane spotting for me…
Northwest did not have flights in and out of Brussels and seeing the plane climbing steeply I said to myself, good, finally they are coming here also and I will not have to connect via Amsterdam when flying to the US (I was a WorldPerks member so flying NWA or KLM was important).
Well, they did fly into Brussels but only that once and unintentionally at that.
On 27/10/2009, in Viewpoint, by steve
Nothing you will say. But wait a second. These are not normal times…
Some of the people with the environment close to their hearts take to the streets every now and then and stab the tires of big, ugly and expensive SUVs. They are sending a message to the owners of the offending vehicles to improve their ways. Exchange them for bicycles… Never mind that some of those SUVs generate less green-house stuff than a host of smaller cars, they are a great object to turn their hate towards. Stabbing the tires does more damage to the environment than leaving them alone, but that is beside the point.
In aviation, business jets have suddenly become the SUV. Latent hate must have been there for a long time… anyone crammed into seat 59A who has seen a G650 taxi by must have felt the bile rise in his or her stomach. Those big, ugly, expensive business jets and the rich people riding in them… nothing short of a scandal.
Of course, it was the auto guys who finally ruined everything when they flew to Washington in their business jets to pick up a few billions in taxpayer money doled out by the US government. Who would think of driving their SUV to the social security office to pick up their unemployment check?
On 27/10/2009, in Interesting people, by steve
When making the interviews for this series of articles I was asked a few times: How did you become an air traffic controller? Although I invented the series to talk about others, I will allow a small break now and tell you a part of my story…
My dad traveled a lot and he brought home all kinds of aviation bits and pieces. Maps, postcards with aircraft, time-tables and what have you. I loved to look at those things and dream about visiting all the nice places they came from. I think the longing to travel and the attraction to flying machines came to the surface at about the same time.