On 26/06/2014, in Just to let you know..., by steve
It is now official. After 9 years of service and 230 thousand kilometers on the clock, our trusty Chrysler Grand Voyager (Town and Country in the US) is retiring. She has seen a lot of airports in Europe, some even from the inside, has carried everything from filming equipment to people to luggage… She has survived a hailstorm that left the metal bumpy like a disease but which was fully repaired… Recently she started to show her age by becoming less reliable. A sensor here, a wire chafed there and the computer deciding it was not safe to “fly”. The divorce became inevitable.
The new flagship is a close relative, a Lancia Voyager, S-type. As you probably know, Fiat took over Chrysler a few years ago and the brand name disappeared in Europe. Chrysler products are now sold under the Lancia name.
The Lancia Voyager is based on the latest model Town and Country in the US, however the Italians have performed a few clever miracles on the original van and turned it into something both chick and superbly functional. The second and third seat rows still disappear in the floor as if by magic and the all-electric sliding doors and tailgate make getting in and out and loading easy. If you liked Boeing’s sky-blue interior in the new 737s, you will feel right at home in this mini-van. Interior lighting is hidden and blue, with individual aircraft type reading lights for each passenger. The parking radar in the rear is combined with a TV camera and on the driver’s display the TV picture and the sensor imagery are cutely combined to help ease the 5.24 meter beast into a slot along the curb.
Lancia has put everything on the line to make the Voyager the best in its class.
With a powerful 2.8 l commonrail diesel engine humming away behind a 6-step automatic gearbox, she is ready for any mission… and will feel also right at home parked alongside a Dreamliner.
She will be joining the BluSky family next Saturday.
On 24/06/2014, in FAB News, by cleo
Here at Roger-Wilco we have never made a secret of our considered opinion that the introduction of Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) to get European air traffic management finally moving was a mistake of biblical proportions. All claims to the contrary, the bloody things do not work and the few results that are there would have been achieved anyway. The only contribution of the FABs was that they did not get in the way… as they do in some cases.
But now the European Commission faces a new phenomenon… rebellion in the ranks!
Our sources at the Commission could not, unfortunately, provide a video of the expression on the face of Mr. Mathew Baldwin, Director Aviation and International Transport Affairs, DG Move, when the letter, signed by the CEO of HungaroControl and sent on behalf of the FAB CE ANSPs, landed on his desk. One does not need an overly active imagination to picture it however.
Apparently the letter was prompted by the expected new volley of exchanges Vice President Kallas was about to launch, criticizing the slow development of things in FAB CE. Calling this process “extremely frustrating” the FAB CE ANSPs inform the director that “these letters (from Mr. Kallas – Ed.) serve to increase our workload and divert our attention, whiles achieving little by way of results”. They also reassure the Director that the ANSPs concerned are doing their best to meet their obligations and that they need to make these steps and the achievements clearly visible.
The purpose of the letter is to find ways of working together and “end the volleying of increasingly rancorous letters”.
These are hard words and certainly highly unusual in communications with somebody in Mr. Baldwin’s position. Clearly, there is something very wrong here.
On 23/06/2014, in SESAR's Palace, by steve
This story really started almost two decades ago when Lufthansa rung the alarm bells about the impending saturation of ACARS frequencies and the potential loss of revenue this would entail due to the operational hinder that would arise when aircraft would no longer be able to communicate reliably with their AOC. On the air traffic management side of the business alarm bells, though less insistent, were also ringing forecasting the day when controllers would no longer be able to communicate with aircraft in their sector due to congestion on the voice frequencies.
For airline operational communications a new system with higher bandwidth and more speed appeared to be the solution. For air traffic controllers a much more radical solution was put forward in the form Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) which is replacing voice comms with text messaging initially for none time critical messages, thereby freeing up the voice channels, ending congestion. For those not familiar with CPDLC, please do not imagine this as something where the controller is required to type away furiously creating the clearances he or she wants to send to the aircraft. The messages to be used are “pre-cooked” in the system and the controller only selects the one he or she needs and adds parts as necessary (e.g. the numbers for a level clearance). In practice this works quite well and the corresponding user interface supports the whole operation keeping workload at a minimum.
I will not go into the details of how hard it was to agree the message set (you can read more about the history of CPDLC here), let it be enough to say that after a long and arduous process all the agreements were in place making sure that Europe and the United States would be fully interoperable when it came to implementing the new feature.
On 16/06/2014, in SESAR's Palace, by steve
On 16 June 2014 the Council of Ministers of the European Union adopted the extension of the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking (SJU). This decision was taken in recognition of the need to foster Research and Innovation (R&I) on Air Traffic Management (ATM) beyond the organisation’s original mandate of 2016, as well as in appreciation of the SESAR partnership’s ability to respond to evolving business needs and fast track technological and operational improvements in Europe’s ATM system.
Established in 2007 by Council Regulation 219/2007 for a period up to December 2016, the SESAR Joint Undertaking is one of the European Union’s most successful public-private partnerships, whereby the entire European ATM sector engages in a single European effort to overcome the past defragmented approach to R&I in the area of ATM. As the technological pillar of the Single European Sky (SES), the SESAR Programme has a critical role to play in developing the necessary technologies and operational procedures to make European air travel more cost efficient, environmentally friendly and safer.
“The SESAR Joint Undertaking is a great asset for Europe because it can bring real economic value to the aviation value chain in the context of the Single European Sky. It re-affirms our reputation for innovation and scientific excellence in the global arena. It is also commendable how the SESAR Joint Undertaking has successfully secured the involvement of ATM stakeholders in the development of a modernised ATM system that meets their operational needs,” says João Aguiar Machado, Director General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE), and Chairman of the SJU Administrative Board.
Notable achievements of the SESAR Programme have been:
• The world’s first flight in four dimensions (3D + time) to enhance flight predictability;
• Remote Tower Services to provide access to remote regions and boost regional economies;
• Extensive toolkits to enhance safety on airport runways;
• Creation of an ATM intranet for the seamless exchange of information and better collaborative decision-making.