Who shall be boss?

On 29/07/2010, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

The story started back in 2009, on 20 April to be exact. As you will see the dates are important, this is why I am trying to remember them exactly. It was on this date that I completed the usual yearly proficiency test and I was so pleased with my 92 % result it never entered my mind that it would some day prove inadequate. In any case, it is only normal that a tower supervisor should achieve at least 90 %, so I was satisfied with myself. You must know about this proficiency test that a simple ground-pounder has 50 questions to answer while a supervisor gets 60… One thing was sure, I could continue to work as SV. (Supervisor or SV in Budapest is the deputy boss of a given shift. DSV or Duty Supervisor is the boss of the shift – Ed.)

A while later on a quiet, December day shift an old student of mine (who is now the boss of the training section but to keep his ATC license he works a certain number of hours in the tower) turned to me and said:

– Lajos, the time has come, here is your chance to become DSV!
– What gives? – I asked emerging from the Supervisor station.
– TC is retiring next year and the bidding is open for his position. Are you interested? – my ex-student asked loud enough for the others to also start listening.
– Rex Lajos, what will become of us without you? Who will they send to torture us? – came the chorus of the colleagues.
– I have no clue. This is the first time I have heard of this. I will think about it. – I replied and returned to the SV station to finish whatever I had been doing in the first place.

But the bug had been planted in my ear. I was thinking, this would be the same group I originally became an SV in… the group where they had that great sphere of companionship, the group that was on good terms even with the colleagues from approach control. True, only two people remained from the original crew but I knew also the young people, if nothing else I met them during their training period.

Click here to read the full article

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Ramp inspections at European Union airports – SAFA

On 27/07/2010, in SKYbrary News, by steve

News from EUROCONTROL’s aviation safety knowledge base SKYbrary.

The European Community Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) program began in 1996 as a voluntary ECAC program. Its legal basis was subsequently established by Directive 2004/36/CE of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 – the so-called “SAFA Directive”. Under this legislation, international safety standards have been enforced within the European Community by means of ramp inspections of third-country aircraft landing at airports located in the EU Member States.

Read the full report here.

You can read more about the past, present and future of the SAFA program here.

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Roger-Wilco – One year down the road

On 23/07/2010, in Anniversaries, by steve

Back in spring 2009 I knew that a lot of us had a lot to say about air traffic management, its future, present and past. What I was not quite sure of was where to say it. Speakers’ Corner in London was not an option and I suspected the official sites of the big ATM organizations would not be exactly happy with some of the things we would want to say.

When the idea of an ATM blog was first floated inside the company, I was reluctant. A lot of people perceive blogs as the trumpet of disgruntled people where they can air their gripes with relative impunity… But then there are other types of blogs also that deliver quality and useful insights… Weighing the possibilities, the decision was made to go for a blog and to make it into this second kind.

In terms of the actual format we decided early on that we did not want to be a discussion forum (plenty of those around) and we did not want to be a news portal either (lots and lots of those also). I was most attracted to something akin to an electronic magazine with full length, informative articles, news items that would not go stale within a day or so, commentary on actual developments and a section on books (both printed and electronic) that we would recommend. In other words, Roger-Wilco had to be something apart, something that befits the first ATM blog ever.

Click here to read the full article

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Relative secrets

On 22/07/2010, in Flashback, by steve

I have an old book here, entitled “On the highways of the sky”. Published in the 60’s in Hungary and translated from the original East-German edition, it did reflect the spirit of the times but for me at age 13 or 14 it was the most wonderful book ever. It talked about all the fascinating things that were already pulling me towards a career in aviation.

There was a sentence in the book, advising air travelers to pack their cameras in the checked baggage. Of course… making photos from aircraft, even passenger aircraft, must have been anathema to the regimes in Eastern Europe back then. I remembered this sentence every time we flew and as a kid often wondered what the always polite and nice Malev cabin crew would have done had I kept my camera with me. On a flight with Aeroflot with a cabin crew perfectly capable of upsetting the balance of the aircraft had they congregated at the aft galley, I did not even wonder any more…

Several years later my dream came true and I started working at Ferihegy airport. Like all such places, Ferihegy too had its share of old stories and as the new boy in town, I was an avid listener whenever the old hands started to reminisce.

One story had a particular relevance to my earlier experience with the camera…

Click here to read the full article

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Summer schedule on Roger-Wilco

On 21/07/2010, in Just to let you know..., by steve

With the summer holiday period on us, we will use an adapted publication schedule until 31 August.

As you will have seen, normally we post at least one new item every week-day. However, with so many of our readers enjoying their well earned holidays we will now use an adapted schedule and publish only three new items per week. The normal schedule of one item per week-day will resume at the end of September. Why only then? Well, we will also be taking a break in early September…

Enjoy your holidays!

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New members in the SESAR family

On 20/07/2010, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

A family normally gets new members through marriage, birth, adoption… In SESAR this happens via the less glamorous sounding “association” process. As it has just been announced, SESAR now boasts 13 associate partners who were taken on board on the basis of the recommendations of organizations already part of SESAR. The list of new partners (see the list below) includes some naturals like Boeing and AVTECH (why were they missing in the first place???), three that are in fact distant relatives of existing members (THALES and NATS) and one, the Moroccan Airports Authority that is a truly new face which can potentially open a window on new horizons towards Africa.

Partnership with all relevant aviation players in the modernization of the European air traffic management is the key principle of SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research). As a consequence, the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) endorsed 13 associate partners to contribute to the SESAR work programme. Among others, the Boeing Company, Thales Australia, the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency and the Moroccan Airports Authority (ONDA) will from now on participate in the work programme. Associate partners were proposed by SJU members which will remain their primary point of contact.

SESAR’s aim is to bring about an evolution in air traffic management systems, eliminating the fragmented approach of European air traffic management (ATM), bringing both public and private stakeholders together. Since its set-up, the SJU secured the additional involvement of airspace users, staff associations, air forces and the scientific world. With this latest enrichment, the SJU not only broadens the number of stakeholders but includes more organizations from third countries in Europe’s ambitious ATM modernization programme.

“Our new associate partners will bring in their specific experience and know-how. We now have 21 air navigation service providers participating in the EU ATM modernization programme. We are particularly delighted to also welcome non-EU members on board of the SESAR ship; this demonstrates our commitment to developing interoperable solutions”, says Patrick Ky, Executive Director of the SESAR Joint Undertaking.

New SESAR family member - ONDA the Moroccan Airports Authority - Marrakech old...

Click here to read the full article

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Three short questions on the SESAR Concept of Operations answered

On 19/07/2010, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

Over the past year we have published several posts dealing with SESAR in general and the SESAR concept of operations in particular. Some of those posts voiced concerns and uncertainties. In an exclusive interview with Michael Standar, SJU Chief Air Traffic Management, published here in May 2010, we attempted to answer the concerns… to some extent anyway. In SESAR Magazine Issue 3, published in July 2010, Michael now answers three short questions on the Concept of Operations. We bring you the full text as it appeared in SESAR Magazine in the hope of making the ConOps picture a bit clearer.

Michael, where are we today with the SESAR Concept of
Operations (ConOps)?

The first thing to remember is that the SESAR ConOps was set out in the SESAR Definition Phase. In the SJU ConOps storyboard it was structured into three steps to realize the paradigm shift necessary to modernize the European ATM system. In step 1, we move from the current day to time-based operations, focused on better use of existing technology and optimizing communication between ground and airborne equipment. Step 2 introduces trajectory based operations through the 4D trajectory. As new technology is involved, international standardization bodies and ICAO will be engaged. The third and final step will be a fully integrated performance based ATM System supported by System Wide Information Management, SWIM – the intranet of the air. These three steps are not sequential but start in parallel, aiming at gaining early benefits for the air transport sector.

Click here to read the full article

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Level bust in holding patterns

On 16/07/2010, in SKYbrary News, by steve

News from EUROCONTROL’s aviation safety knowledge base SKYbrary.

Holding patterns pose particular problems in relation to level busts because several aircraft are packed into a small volume of airspace and are constantly manoeuvring and changing their levels. Descent below the cleared level immediately reduces vertical separation from the aircraft below, and is difficult for an ATCO to detect and correct quickly.

Read the full article here.

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SESAR unites aviation world for quick green results

On 15/07/2010, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

The SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) selected 18 projects involving 40 airline, airport, ANSP and industry partners to expand the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE). Under the initiative, the SJU supports integrated flight trials and demonstrations validating solutions for the reduction of CO2 emissions for surface, terminal and oceanic flight operations. Seven of the 18 proposals include green gate-to-gate projects, among others between France and the French West Indies. One highlight of the programme will be a series of green transatlantic flights with the Airbus A380, the world’s largest airliner.

AIRE was launched in 2007, designed to improve energy efficiency and aircraft noise in cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The SJU is responsible for its management from a European perspective. In 2009, the SJU supported 1,152 green flight trials under the AIRE umbrella. 18 partners in five locations participated in the trials.

As a result of a complementary call for tender, more partners will be involved in AIRE in additional pioneer locations such as Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Canada, Morocco, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. “AIRE 2 means more partners in more locations with more trials for more results. We will demonstrate that green flight operations can be applied everywhere immediately, when partners agree to work together with a common goal. This is not the future, this is SESAR’s reality”, says Patrick Ky, Executive Director of the SJU.

Click here to read the full article

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At least the Red-Arrows survived…

On 14/07/2010, in Flashback, by steve

Concorde, QE2 and the Red Arrows in happier days...

I am pretty certain that few in the travel industry would have believed when this photo was made in April 1985 that the Queen Elisabeth 2 would actually stay in operation longer than Concorde would… Yet that is exactly what had happened.

Concorde’s future was sealed when F-BTSC crashed in Paris on 25 July 2000. Air France and British Airways tried to keep the magnificent bird alive after they re-launched service following modifications to the fuel tanks but the operation simply did not make economic sense any more. The last commercial BA flight on 24 October 2003 marked the end of 27 years of supersonic travel…

QE2 continued to plow the world’s oceans, retiring from Cunard service on 27 November 2008. She was destined to become a floating hotel, moored at Palm Jumeirah, Dubai.

The fate of Concorde, the fastest child of the species that killed the kin of QE2, was a bit like a child dying before the parent. A tragedy that hurts… as did Concorde’s disappearance from the skies.

Luckily, the Red Arrows survived and they continue to claim our  place above the clouds.

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