Train them well… but watch your step!

On 30/06/2010, in Flashback, by steve

During my ATC years and also after, I did a fair amount of training that ranged from ICAO Annex 14 (Airports), radio telephony procedures and ATC automation to HMI design and airspace user requirements in the future ATM system. The students represented a similarly broad spectrum from ab-initio controller trainees to ATC supervisors, engineers and pilots with a dizzying variety of nationalities and classroom customs. I had to learn early that ignoring their sensitivities was not a good idea.

I was reminded of this when our friends in The Netherlands bought a very nice house in the South of France and although they like to stay there as much as possible, during the school year they still tend to stick to rainy “kikkerland”. I am not sure but I suspect that part of the problem is their primary-school son whom they may be reluctant to entrust to the school system in France. He is a bright little guy and there is nothing wrong with the school system in France. But it is different and a kid used to the more free-wheeling Dutch system would need to adapt.

Several years ago a few times a year I was delivering a presentation entitled “Airspace user requirements for the future ATM system”. The course was meant for ATC supervisors who came to the EUROCONTROL Institute of Air Navigation Services in Luxemburg to attend. I held a very similar presentation once a year at ENAC in Toulouse for ATM engineering students whose study language was English and they had to incorporate the presentation material into their final exam papers.

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Interesting people, unusual flight plans…

On 29/06/2010, in Interesting people, by steve

Mike Russo, take 2

Not long after we published the interview with Mike Russo in the “Interesting people, unusual flight plans” series, Mike was presented with a 2010 Volare Special Award by the Airlines Avionics Institute (AAI) at the 2010 AMC/AEEC.

Mike with Daphne and Dawn

Each year, AAI encourages the contribution of ideas, leadership and innovation by allowing individuals to be nominated for Volare Awards prior to the annual AMC. These awards recognize individuals in airline and supplier organizations for outstanding personal achievement. The criteria for nomination are:
The candidate should be well known within the industry and should have a history of actual industry improvement and/or active involvement in a recognizable category such as but not limited to the following examples:
a) New products
b) Better methodologies
c) Working in various technical committees
d) New technologies
e) Be the industry “go to” person for particular products or services
f) Have a history of outstanding service to their customers
g) Have personally served our industry in some contributing capacity for example by active involvement in its organizations, activities and/or functions

The AAI process requires that the nomination be seconded before it is considered by their awards committee.

The Volare Award has become world-renowned as the avionics industry’s highest recognition for individual achievement. The Awards offered at the AMC allow individuals to be nominated in the categories of Airline Avionics Maintenance and Avionics Product Support. In addition, AAI presents a Pioneer Award and a Chairman’s Special Award on an as deserved basis.

Over the past 41 years, Volare Awards have been presented to outstanding members of the avionics maintenance community and it is with pleasure that we at Roger-Wilco announce that Mike has now joined their ranks.

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Station calling – Visiting just4airlines.com

On 27/06/2010, in Station calling, by steve

No matter what subject one picks, there are hundreds if not thousands of sites on the internet that appear to cover that particular subject, some doing a better job than the others. It is often not easy to find the truly reliable ones. Aviation related sites are no different. This is why it is so refreshing and nice to happen on a place where you can be sure that what you get is the best there is whether it is news, supplier lists or vacancies.

Just4airlines.com is such a place!

Launched in 2002, just4airlines is a limited liability company registered in Malaysia with offices both there and in the UK. The company’s mandate is to provide an online travel directory to airline employees worldwide. However, as we will see, the site provides a wealth of information and resources for anyone interested in aviation.

All three founders, Nuala Boardman, Yvonne Russell and Paul Russell, are still active in the company and they are all ex-airline employees (BOAC, British Airways, IATA, Canadian Pacific) and as such know very well what to provide in the context of such a directory service.

Their home page, which is nice in its simplicity, is easy to navigate. It welcomes you claiming to be the one-stop resource for airline people but this is again an understatement. Anyone working in aviation (and beyond) will find things of interest on this well thought out site.

Click on any of the side-bar menu items and you are taken to the subject page, all of which present the same, straightforward, uncluttered look and feel as the home page itself. No unnecessary graphics and other glitzy elements here, “just” information presented in an easy to absorb manner. I wish more sites would emulate this information-centric approach.

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Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) for Dummies – IBM eBook 2nd Limited Edition (free download)

On 25/06/2010, in Bookshelf, by steve

If you are following SESAR or NextGen for that matter, you will have come accross the abbreviation SOA (Service Oriented Architecture). A lot of discussion is being generated on the subject in the air traffic management world, not least because SOA has never really been applied in ATM before.  If the experts have a problem figuring this out, what about the rest of us? Where can we turn for help?

Service Oriented Architecture is the most important technology initiative facing businesses today. SOA is game changing, and early SOA successes make it clear that SOA is here to stay. This book introduces you to the basics of SOA in context with the real life experiences of seven companies. Seen through the varied business environments depicted in each of the case studies, the authors hope you will recognize that SOA is more than a bunch of new software products strung together to allow technology companies to have something else to sell. SOA represents a dramatic change in the relationship between business and IT. SOA makes technology a true business enabler and empowers business and technology leaders alike.

Download the free IBM eBook here.

To be able to read the eBook, you will need Adobe Digital Editions to be installed on your computer. If it is not yet installed, with your approval the system will install it for you. Adobe Digital Editions is usable for other eBooks also created under the same protocol.

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EUROCONTROL Experimental Center INO Workshop – Call for Papers

On 24/06/2010, in Events, by steve

The 9th Innovative Research Workshop and Exhibition will be held at the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre at Brétigny-sur-Orge, France on 7 – 9 December 2010. Submission of papers for this event is now open. 

With some 200 participants the INO Workshop has become an important event in the ATM calendar, providing researchers an open and stimulating environment to present their latest innovative ideas related to air traffic management. Apart from paper presentations, this year’s workshop will further include a keynote (details to be announced soon), parallel workshops, posters and demonstrations, and a panel discussion. Last year’s panel discussion has identified the limited involvement of industry, especially airlines, as an area for improvement and we plan a workshop with airlines to redress this situation.

All papers will be submitted online. Details of the conference and the Call for Papers can be found here.

The deadline for paper submission is September 10, 2010.

Papers will be evaluated based on the innovative nature of the ideas, as well as the approach and methods applied. The proceedings will be assigned an ISBN number and published on the conference website prior to the event; chosen topics may also be selected for inclusion in a possible book or journal volume. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

· 4D and trajectories;
· Communication and surveillance;
· Human factors;
· Airports;
· Modelling and data management;
· Managing complex systems;
· ATM concepts and airspace management;
· Automation;
· Economics and performance and
· Regulatory aspects.

Mark your calendars and start writing your papers!

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European ATM – Is there anything really new under the Sun?

On 24/06/2010, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

Back in March, Daniel Calleja, Director of the European Commission’s Air Transport Directorate, informed his audience at the ATC Global conference in Amsterdam, that “…despite six years’ effort, Europe has yet to achieve its objective of creating a Single European Sky (SES).” Six years indeed… make that thirteen Mr. Calleja.

Thankfully I do not attend that many meetings these days but those I do tend to be teeming with fresh new faces, enthusiastic young experts who sometimes stay long hours to discuss things that we too had discussed at length when we qualified as a fresh new face. I have no doubt about their sincerity or expertise. My concern is about the perception that what they are dealing with is new…

So what is this new ATM system they are trying to create? “A concept predicated on layered planning, based around a strategically derived daily plan and collaborative decision making between the parties involved, evolving towards managing resources rather than demand. Airspace is regarded as a continuum for airspace planning purposes to optimize the available resources… Airspace divisions are based on ATM needs rather then on national boundaries… Free flight airspace is part of the concept… major change of the roles on the ground and in the air… greater use of computer support…” Why am I quoting from the SESAR concept you will ask???

Well, the sad truth is the above quotation is NOT from SESAR or the Single European Sky (SES) but from Edition 1.0 of the European ATM Operational Concept Document, dated 1 March 1997! The foreword of the document lists those involved in its preparation and the list shows an uncanny similarity to the current membership of the SESAR Joint Undertaking. The EC’s DG7 was also there and as I remember, they were pushing really hard for innovative solutions.

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AEEC General Session report for 2010 is now available

On 23/06/2010, in Bookshelf, by steve

The annual AEEC General Session is the most important single event on the AEEC calendar. The General Session marks the culmination of the years’ standards development work, and new ARINC Standards are discussed and approved at this meeting. Furthermore, at the General Session the AEEC initiates the work program for the next year. The AEEC General Session is an ideal opportunity for aviation industry professionals to obtain an overview of the important technical developments in air transport avionics and other aircraft electronics.

The 2010 AEEC General Session report summarizes:

– NextGen and SESAR Readiness

 – Airframe perspective NextGen and SESAR Readiness

– Avionics Supplier perspective SFAR 88 Fuel Tank Symposium

– Software Management Symposium

– Security Aspects of Software Data Loading Symposium and

– AEEC Subcommittee and Project reports

It also contains valuable information on AEEC’s actions to adopt new ARINC Standards.

This is a must have publication for all professionals on the avionics side of the business. The report is in two parts with all the briefing material under separate cover.

You can purchase and download your copy here.

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Conversion course – Does anyone understand the airlines?

On 22/06/2010, in Airline corner, by steve

My fascination with aircraft started at about age 5 and I first heard about air traffic control when I was 16. Gabi Nemeth who made music besides being an air traffic controller was on a TV talk show and he made a gallant effort to explain what ATC was all about… He must have done a great job because I for one understood what he was saying and from then on wanted nothing better than to be a controller. Being accepted to the physics faculty of a University in Budapest almost derailed my destiny but I corrected it soon enough and on my 21st birthday I issued the first landing clearance all on my own!

In the years that followed I collected just about every qualification a controller can have and added a bit of computer programming skill also. In time I exchanged the microphone for a desk at ICAO in Paris and later, for a post involved in building the new Amsterdam ATC system, AAA. But I never thought of myself as anything other than an air traffic controller. I was also very much convinced that what I was doing with or without the microphone, was the best possible course for our charges, the aircraft and their operators. Giving them directs, shortening the tracks wherever possible and the many other “treats” all appeared as going out of our way to help them.

My first exposure to IATA was at the very first Flow East meeting which was held in Budapest. We knew relatively little about this mighty organization or how it worked and were generally a bit suspicious of its motives… They sent a diminutive Swissair captain as one of their representatives and what he lacked in stature was more than made up for by his forceful personality and very clear words blasting us for the very poor job we were doing. He did not spare the civil aviation authorities either, drawing multiple color lines on a wall chart showing where the air routes should be in his view… Very few of the existing routes were where he thought they should be of course. His propensity for drawing colored lines earned him the nick “Tintoretto”. I remember how deeply hurt I felt by all the verbal abuse but also the feeling that may be, just may be, Tintoretto had a point. Had I known what profound effect his colored lines would have on my life many years later, I would have kissed the little captain on the brow for sure.

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In memoriam – Miklos Hamori

On 21/06/2010, in Just to let you know..., by steve

Miklos was just 59 when his life was cut short on 10 June 2010. We used to work together at Budapest Approach and later he returned to the tower where he carried Shift C as its supervisor for fifteen years or more. He was a real professional who knew not only the ATC side of the business but also the pilot side and in particular, light aircraft and general aviation. He was an icon for the young! You could never be bored when he was around, he was full of stories and anecdotes which he shared with everyone in his signature, good-natured manner. His wife, Susanne was also an aerodrome controller. I knew her from back when we were fighting to get the Hungarian authorities to allow women to become air traffic controllers.

A funeral is always a sad affair and it is not appropriate to say that a funeral was nice… But in Miklos’ case the funeral was truly unique, befitting someone who had lived for and with aviation.

Mourners coming to take their leave from Miklos were asked to bring flower seeds instead of flowers to the funeral. Light aircraft carrying Miklos’ ashes and the flower seeds took off from Dunakeszi and flew to Ferihegy International airport where the ashes and flower seeds were dispersed over the grassy area alongside runway 31L. As this was happening, the airport supervisors formed a cross on one of the taxiways using their vehicles.

An appropriate tribute to a man dedicated to flying and  aviation in general.

Rest in peace my friend!

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Surprise in Vienna – When the system really fails

On 21/06/2010, in CDM, by steve

Brussels Airlines flight SN2908 is the evening counterpart of SN2901, the red-eye Brussels-Vienna flight that takes you to that magnificent city in time for a meeting that can start as early as 10.00 and conclude as late as 18.00 since SN2908 will bring you home comfortably. The only trouble with SN2908 is that it is apparently late in nine cases out of ten… No doubt this is a flight at the end of the series of rotations assigned to the 737 performing it and ATC delays and a bit of bad weather can all conspire to make an on time run a mission impossible. I have spent quite some time and euros at the Starbucks outlet conveniently located near the gate usually assigned to 2908 waiting for her to put in an appearance.

But in all cases, we knew about the delay right on arrival at the airport and could plan our extra sojourn accordingly. But not on this Friday, 18 June when we were dished up something completely new, shaking my trust in the information management savvy of our industry.

In case you are not familiar with Vienna airport, in the terminal used by Brussels Airlines the gates have a kind of holding area which you enter through a security check done at the entrance. Each gate has its own screening equipment. The gate and the security check point is normally manned about one hour before the published boarding time.

The boarding time for SN2908 was 20.05 and so a little over 19.00 processing of passengers into the holding area began as usual. One would assume that all this activity is started on the basis of the news that the aircraft is in the air and will be landing more or less on time.

As I don’t like queues, I was one of the first through security and then planted myself near the air-bridge doors ready to walk when the sign was given. I like to have a place for my flight case in the overhead bins…

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