AF447 – French investigators say it was pilot error

On 29/07/2011, in Safety is no accident, by steve

French accident investigators have concluded that the crash of AF447 was due to pilot error. Investigator Alain Bouillard said: “The pilots were in a situation they didn’t understand!”

Download the latest summary report here.

Get the 3rd Interim Report here.

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Pilot CDM Project to Improve Air Traffic Management Between Bangkok and Singapore

On 29/07/2011, in CDM, by steve

CANSO, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation, has announced the launch of a pilot project which aims to improve the efficiency of air traffic management (ATM) between two major cities in the Asia-
Pacific region.

The project seeks to demonstrate the potential efficiency gains from the implementation of CDM at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok and Changi airport in Singapore, and the integration with en-route CDM for seamless ATM operations.

Click here to read the full article

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Airbus Acquires Metron Aviation

On 27/07/2011, in Just to let you know..., by steve

Airbus has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Metron Aviation, a leading provider of advanced Air Traffic Management (ATM) products and services for the global aviation industry. This acquisition strengthens Airbus’ strategy to accelerate and support ATM programs that will dramatically improve global air transportation capacity, efficiency and environmental sustainability.

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals, and the acquisition is expected to be completed later this year. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Earlier this year, Airbus launched subsidiary Airbus ProSky, dedicated to supporting the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), Europe’s Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) and other global ATM modernisation programs.

Click here to read the full article

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My First Mistake as an Air Traffic Controller

On 27/07/2011, in ATC world, by jim

F-84s at Bergstrom

Bergstrom Air Force Base, Austin, Texas, November 1952, a Strategic Air Command base with a complement of straight wing F-84, fighter bombers with nuclear capability. The high degree of professionalism and militarism of SAC was evident throughout. Even though the war was on, Korean Police Action I mean, the mood was one of controlled fury at the potential of the Communist Bear more than the oriental fight in progress.

I was a newly minted, E-3, Airman Second Class, Air Traffic Controller at my first PCS, Permanent Change of Station, assignment. Basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and six months at Biloxi Air Force Base, Mississippi in Air Traffic Control training had shown me the fun and challenge of being in ATC.

I had checked in to Bergstrom in mid-September and found that not many people knew what an Air Traffic Controller was or where they were located on the base. After passing through the Main Gate and being directed to the Personnel office I was stranded for about two hours until someone finally realized that I wasn’t assigned to the personnel of the base but was in a tenant organization, AACS, Air & Airways Communication Service. A most esoteric of units comprising the Tower operators, GCA controllers and Electronic technicians supporting them.

By November I was firmly established in the training program of the Control Tower and was able to “handle the mike” and even be assigned to work the “mid-shift” (mid-night to seven o’clock) with a fully qualified controller. Another duty was assignment to the D/F shack, a mobile Direction Finder unit located out in the boon-docks of the air base off the north end of the runways. One of the joys there was the M-16 carbine assigned to the shack for snake patrol. One could, without reporting it, fire away at the snakes in the scrub as long as the weapon was cleaned before the shift was over. This was in Texas.

Click here to read the full article

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What a way to run a railroad – the FAA is shutting down!

On 25/07/2011, in Just to let you know..., by steve

The writing has been on the wall for some time. Approval of the reauthorization bill (the all important act of Congress that ensures funding to the FAA) has been a convoluted process year after year and there have been a few near misses already. But this time they have done it!

The FAA went into partial shut-down last Friday… incredible but true. 4000 non-essential employees were furloughed and no money for the aviation trust fund can be collected or paid. Air traffic controllers are not affected but all FAA Regional offices will be closed and only essential personnel will come to work.

The impact on the aviation trust fund is a cool 200 million bucks lost revenue per week and in all likelihood the schedule of NextGen will also be adversely affected.

Of course thus may sound like peanuts compared to the very real danger of the US itself defaulting on its debts if no agreement is reached in raising the credit ceiling by 2 August but still…

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Re-visiting the Airport Hotel Budapest

On 25/07/2011, in On the go..., by steve

Although it is high-Summer in Europe and most people are enjoying their well deserved holidays, there are others who work hard to make sure that those holidays become the wonderful event everyone was hoping for. Our visit to Budapest this time around was only 5 days and it combined business with a little relaxation. It also gave me a chance to re-visit the Airport Hotel Budapest which we had recommended to our readers in the past. My previous stays at the hotel were mainly in the business season and I was looking forward to seeing how they were coping with the mad holiday rush.

We arrived pretty late on a Friday evening but the ladies at the reception were crisp and friendly in spite of the late hour. Not that I expected anything less! Everything was also squeaky clean as if this was early morning rather than the evening after what must have been a busy day. You may wonder why I mention cleanliness but take the trouble and go to any of the hotel reservation sites and read the customer comments. Complaints about the LACK of cleanliness abound. Obviously, many a house around the world tries to save on the cleaning bill. But this is not something Airport Hotel Budapest is doing and they deserve to be noted for this.

The reception where you are always greeted with a smile.

Five days means five breakfasts and I am always looking forward to breakfasts in Budapest. The breakfast menu tends to offer also fare that I remember from our childhood and which is not available even for gold in the rest of the world. Airport Hotel Budapest offers a complimentary US style breakfast and it has everything any guest could ever want. They also include my childhood favorites!

Click here to read the full article

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Meet EDA – The Efficient Descent Advisor

On 21/07/2011, in NextGen, by steve

You will have heard of Tailored Arrivals… they are nice and work well but they often also need to be broken off prematurely when conflicts between aircraft arise. Now here is a tool that pre-empts the conflicts and releases the full power of tailored arrivals. Meet EDA, the Efficient Descent Advisor being developed by NASA.

What is the problem?

As an airplane transitions for landing, today’s air traffic control procedures often force the aircraft to fly inefficient arrival paths involving frequent changes in vectoring, altitude, and speed in order to maintain safe separation from other aircraft. The frequent changes of this stair-step approach are problematic because they often require added engine power, which increases fuel burn, causing detrimental effects to the environment.

What is the solution?

Continuous Descent Approaches (or CDA) is a next generation aviation concept that enables aircraft to “coast” during the final stages of flight, using less engine power. Instead of approaching an airport in a conventional stair-step fashion, CDA allows aircraft to fly a continuous, gliding descent at low engine power, thereby minimizing fuel consumption, environmental emissions, and noise pollution.

What is NASA doing to help?

Click here to read the full article

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First SESAR Innovation Days

On 19/07/2011, in Events, by steve

Announcement and call for papers

The First SESAR Innovation Days will take place at the Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC) in Toulouse, France from 29th November to 1st December 2011.

This event, which replaces previous INO Workshops held at Brétigny, is the main forum for dissemination of WP-E results and for interaction with an enlarged ATM research community. SESAR Workpackage E, Long-term and Innovative Research, supports research activities that are not currently part of the ‘mainstream’ SESAR development work packages. This research is targeted beyond the current SESAR timeframe, nominally 2020, as well as for innovation that may have application in the nearer term.

The event will bring together researchers and industry, vital for the health of the air transportation community. It will also include a number of parallel events, including sessions of the WP-E research networks. Keynote presentations, a panel discussion and an accompanying exhibition further add to the interest of the workshop. Unlike any other scientific event in ATM research the focus is explicitly on long-term and innovative research.

In addition to presenting results of WP-E networks, projects and PhDs, the event also seeks contributions from the ATM research community through an open call which is available here. The submission deadline for papers is 16th September.

The web site of the event is here. Check back often as new information will be published here as it becomes available.

Questions? Email the organizers!

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6 July 2011 – 75 years of ATC in the US

On 15/07/2011, in Anniversaries, by steve

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration  marked the 75th anniversary of federal air traffic control ON 6 July as American aviation experiences its safest period ever. Since its inception with 15 workers operating in just three control centers in 1936, the agency has become a world leader, pioneering safety improvements and developing new technology to speed up flights, save fuel and improve safety.

“The United States has the safest air transportation system in the world. But as the last 75 years show, we will never stop working to make our system even safer,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“As a pilot, I am in awe of the aviation safety and technological advancements that have been made in the last 75 years,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “NextGen represents the next milestone in aviation innovation. The FAA is committed to transforming our national airspace system so passengers can reach their destinations even more safely and more efficiently than they do today.”

Federal air traffic control began on July 6, 1936, when the Bureau of Air Commerce took over the operation of the first airway traffic control centers at Newark, N.J., Chicago and Cleveland. Faced with a growing demand for air travel, the 15 employees who made up the original group of controllers took radio position reports from pilots to plot the progress of each flight, providing no separation services. At the time, the fastest plane in the commercial fleet was the Douglas DC-3, which could fly coast-to-coast in about 17 hours while carrying 21 passengers.

Click here to read the full article

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Air France and Hungarian water-melons

On 13/07/2011, in Viewpoint, by steve

While Hungarians are being urged by their Minister of Agriculture to buy a few extra pieces of water-melons, thereby helping local growers, French politicians under the leadership of right-wing MP Bernard Carayon are proclaiming: “Air France is Airbus, not Boeing”. Excuse me?

Of course this incredible folly is a direct retaliation for the US Air Force’s decision to source their tanker aircraft from Boeing and not Airbus. At stake now is Air France-KLM’s fleet renewal involving the purchase or leasing of scores of long and medium range aircraft, a multi-billion euro investment decision.

I very much doubt that either Air France-KLM or Airbus is pleased by this ham-handed and totally uncalled-for political interference which, like all such interferences whether they concern water-melons or aircraft, ultimately will only hurt those it was supposed to help.

One can only hope that the French initiative will stop at being grand-standing and will not in any way influence the airline group’s purchasing decisions. Should this not be the case, the French MPs will have given an extra trump card into the hands of those who had opposed sourcing such a strategic asset as the US Air Force tanker fleet from a company under the thumb of a country known to have its own peculiar way of doing things.

In a post back in February this year, we commented: “I tend to agree with those who have said right from the start that a strategic asset like the tankers for the US Air Force should not come from anywhere else but the US. While from a commercial or even operational point of view an Airbus product may have its merits, having such a strategic asset being dependent on a foreign government (however friendly… ) is not a good idea.”

If (and I stress this is still a big if) Air France-KLM is “encouraged” by the French to buy Airbus rather than Boeing it would be easy to picture what might have happened if the US Air Force equipped with Airbus tankers and then found itself in a conflict somewhere in the world not to the taste of some French parliamentarians…

The French MPs should take the example of the Hungarians and if they feelt this urge to meddle, stay with water-melons.

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