On 23/02/2012, in SESAR's Palace, by steve
For the second year now, as part of the preparations for ATC Global in Amsterdam, Roger-Wilco editor Steve Zerkowitz has been granted an exclusive interview with an officer of SESAR. This time he talked with the JU’s Michael Standar, Chief Strategies and International Relations about the achievements and challenges of the SESAR Program.
Last year everyone was waiting for the details of Release 1. How far have the aims been achieved? Are there any problems? What is the impact on SESAR as a whole?
When the first list of potential Release 1 validation exercises was developed, it was fairly long.… Together with the members, we scrutinized each project as to its true potential of being ready for industrialization. These iterations resulted in a final approved Release 1 set of exercises with content deemed ready for real world validation. Even though this being a bottom-up process I believe through this process we did reach the aims set out for Release 1.
Of course one must also remember that Release 1, important as it is, primarily focusing on mature areas to prove industrialization readiness and not the whole Program; as such Release 1 was certainly a success within its limits.
In this context the “story” of IP1 is worth being mentioned. There too a number of the original IP1 OIs needed more SESAR R&D. Some people might say that a lot of the IP1 content included solutions that had been developed earlier. This is correct, but they nevertheless lacked a true validation in a real life environment with the necessary analysis and with the relevant stakeholder involvement. Another thing we had to realize was the need to approach the new features on an iterative basis. This is the best way to progress towards maturity. Take Initial 4D for instance. We will have three iterations starting in 2011 and then continuing in 2012 and 2013. These fit well with the target dates of the Master Plan also.
Another element of the Program that is an important candidate for iterative development is the remote tower concept. An excellent idea and something that is eminently feasible but in order to have a deployable product, we will have to go through a number of iterations to reach full maturity.
We have also seen that there is no such thing as “one size fits all”. The iterations do allow us to define the best fits for different environments while staying fully within the original spiral of development. This is a very cost effective approach to the development of the elements of a complex system like ATM.
In the meantime, Release 2 is on the table. What is the chief content? How is Release 2 progressing?
On 20/02/2012, in Just to let you know..., by steve
Following a recent trial, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has prepared the way for data link Air Traffic Control (ATC) communications over the global High Frequency Data Link (HFDL) network of ARINC Incorporated. The technology is known as FOH, an acronym for “FANS (Future Air Navigation System)1/A over HFDL.”
In a January 12 letter, the FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, Margaret Gilligan, stated, “The FAA accepts FOH as a viable means of Air Traffic Service (ATS) communications,” and agrees that FOH “will provide an effective means of Air Traffic Control (ATC) communications and position reporting.”
The FAA decision means aircraft already using HFDL for long distance operational communications will eventually be capable of using the ARINC service to communicate with controllers as well.
Ron Hawkins, ARINC Vice President of Commercial Aviation Solutions, welcomes the FAA decision. “By adopting FOH for Air Traffic Control, both pilots and controllers will be able to reduce their workloads on and off the aircraft—all the while increasing safety by automating activities previously done with voice,” he states.
FOH data link provides an inexpensive global alternative to satellite-based global communications, and it is expected to be most beneficial in controlled Oceanic airspace such as the North Atlantic and Pacific flight routes. With the addition of FOH, ARINC offers the world’s broadest portfolio of aeronautical communication services.
On 12/01/2012, in Tower chronicles, by lajos
The end of 2011 is in fact the end of an epoch in the history of Hungarian air traffic control. I do not want to qualify this epoch, future generations might do that in the fullness of time. The fact remains, an important generation of controllers have retired. I call them the “beat-generation”. About 40 people have, willingly or reluctantly, chosen for retirement in 2011 mainly to avoid the consequences of the altered pension rules kicking in this year.
They were lucky in this also, like in so many things during the past 40 years. Our generation will miss out on any favorable terms of retirement, exactly because of the huge numbers in the “beat-generation” causing the strain on the State retirement fund to grow exponentially. This is why the age limit for retirement is being raised, a fact that affects our generation especially hard since the age limit is climbing in front of our very noses.
The “beat-generation” was lucky also in arriving at the airport at just the right time. With low traffic, they did not take long to learn the tricks of the trade. I have heard from them many times that they became air traffic controllers more or less by accident, they were working at the airport where they heard that aircraft could not only be flown but also controlled… Of course as time passed by, they grew with the traffic. They had another ace up their sleeves. In those decades, controllers were still a team, they knew how to stand together and protect their interests. This was the case when we came home from the ATC course in Riga after almost three years. They knew that our knowledge was superior to theirs (not only because of Riga) and they responded by simply closing ranks. At the courses held on home base they were present as instructors and they did their best to make us hate this business and to discourage us from trying to be more clever than they were.
On 26/12/2011, in Buzzwords explained, by steve
Although the concept of Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) originated in the US, Europe did leapfrog ahead with its initiative called Airport CDM (A-CDM). A-CDM has been implemented at a number of European airports with varying degrees of success and it seems that the momentum of implementation has slowed somewhat. On the other hand, most everybody agrees that A-CDM, if done properly, does bring the benefits predicted by the early cost-benefit analyses.
While A-CDM has several elements, practically all the benefits arise from the shared information and resulting better decisions while the chief conceptual basis of A-CDM is embodied in the milestones approach. The milestones are in fact defined events and corresponding statuses that must be achieved at defined times as the flight is going through the turnaround process. The turnaround process is then managed proactively by all the parties involved who share the same view and understanding of the process and the consequences of not meeting a given milestone. In fact, the purpose of A-CDM is to make the operation more predictable which reduces unnecessary queuing at the runway.
Of course things did not stand still in the US either. While the basic principles of the A-CDM concept have been adopted it was necessary to steer developments in a direction that took account of the fundamental differences between Europe and the US environment. These concern mainly the more active role aircraft operators play in assigning and controlling airport resources like gates and ramp areas as well as the availability of the FAA Command Center which, unlike the CFMU in Europe, has real authority to dynamically manage the National Airspace System.
The FAA has developed a Surface CDM Concept of Operations which provides the overall framework for CDM implementation in the airport context, much like the A-CDM Concept of Operations does in Europe. Collaborative Departure Queue Management (CDQM) is one element of the Surface CDM Concept, which has actually been tested in the US (in Memphis among others).
On 23/11/2011, in ATC world, by jim
Yes, here I am again. You’d think by now I would stop this self-flagellation, but this is not for me. I record these incidents so you may see the mistake and avoid the same or similar in your life. I noted in my last missile that pride was a key ingredient in most of my mistakes. So it was and is.
Altimetry, a simple system; Know the pressure of the atmosphere and you can accurately judge distance above the surface. But we humans have made it a bit more difficult than stated. We have different methods of measurement. Some measure in inches others measure in centimeters. Compounding this is the insistence of some to measure height above sea level and others above the ground level. In the parlance of the time QNH and QFE.
Because of these anomalies the controller at Rhein-Main in 1957 had to have available the QNH and QFE in both Inches of mercury and Millibars of mercury. This means four numbers. The field elevation at Frankfurt International Airport was 272 feet Mean Sea Level. Therefore a QNH reading of 29.92 inches becomes a QFE of 272 feet less, or 29.65 and the concomitant millibar numbers, 1012.3 and —–.
Each hour when the weather observer recorded the observation on a Dimiphone recording, the QNH and QFE would be given in both inches and millibars. Those numbers would then be written on a backlit Plexiglas placard and posted so everyone in the control room could see the placard.
For those who are interested, the QNH and QFE three letter groups are from the days of Morse code transmission of information. They are from the list of “Q” signals. QDM is the magnetic course to a station, QSY is, “Change your radio frequency to xxxx“. There is a long list of these abbreviations. Many were still used as shorthand phraseology in radiotelephony in the 50′s and 60′s, especially in the international aviation system.
With all that as preface, this is the incident as it happened:
On 18/11/2011, in The lighter side, by heading370
Summer months are of crucial importance for all airlines but they are even more so for those in the charter business. Airliner World was happy to accept the invitation of one of those charter companies, Travel Service Hungary – an affiliate of its owner Travel Service A.S. – to check how their operations are conducted from their Budapest base.
The Czech company was founded in 1997 and became one of the fastest growing Central European charter operators. In 2008 the company transported 2.8 million passengers using a fleet of 18 aircraft. The company has 2 Boeing B737-500, 12 B737-800 (of which OK-TVJ and OK-TVK were delivered brand new), 2 Airbus A320 and two B737-800 on wet lease. They have been present in Hungary since 2001 and operate about 32 medium and long haul flights a week from Hungary while employing 21 full time pilots at that base.
On a beautiful Sunday morning in July at Budapest-Ferihegy (ICAO:LHBP, IATA: BUD) Terminal 2B I met one of the airline’s young captains Peter Buliczka and his crew getting ready for an interesting trip. The flight’s first stop will be at Heraklion, Nikos Kazantzakis airport (ICAO: LGIR, IATA: HER) Crete then we will fly on to Rhodes (Rodos) Diagoras (ICAO: LGRP IATA: RHO) before heading back to Budapest. Some time ago the airline would have operated two separate flights to these two destinations, but because of the falling demand this summer travel agencies struggled to fill these flights every week.
Captain Buliczka introduced me to the entire crew: the captain will be assisted by First Officer Attila Lanc in the cockpit, while in the cabin the usual crew of four will be supplemented by two young trainee flight assistant colleagues under the supervision of Purser Zoltan Koltai.
On 14/11/2011, in Just to let you know..., by steve
It is probably the sign of the times but we are being inundated by abbreviations. Just watch your son or daughter write an SMS and you will see how they have caught on to the old secret familiar also in aviation: use abbreviations to express what you want to say and you can say much more in the same space of time… or the SMS as it were.
The old Q-code system is a good example of how abbreviations can be used to communicate effectively when the bandwidth is limited and it is important not to be ambiguous. That aviation still has this propensity to invent new abbreviations is probably due to a family trait that goes back to before even the Q-codes were introduced.
But it is not only abbreviations that make life difficult. Technology is progressing so fast that it is well nigh impossible to keep up. New terms keep coming at us and it is an achievement in itself if we can familiarize ourselves at least with all the new things popping up in our specialist area.
But help is at hand. Check out the free Aero Glossary here. This wonderful repository contains 12000 abbreviations, more than 2000 aircraft codes, more than 8000 airline codes and much much more, with their coverage increasing by the hour. A really nice touch is that you can access the free glossary not only from your PC but also your mobile devices as there are versions for Apple, Android and Windows Phone.
All this is brought to you by Compass Innovative Solutions Ltd. who will be also happy to receive your contributions to the glossary.
Before you ask, let me answer the obvious question. With Wikipedia around, why do we need the Aero Glossary? Wiki is great but I like the focused way Aero Glossary works. It also brings you, in an easy to navigate way, things that do not fit well with Wiki’s format. Just think of country or airline codes or ATC call-signs and you will see what I mean.
This is a very nice initiative and I will be using it all the time.
On 14/11/2011, in TITAN, by steve
No, this is not something new for your Wii or other gaming platform… sorry.
True, experts participating in the TITAN project gathered in Budapest’s Airport Hotel for a gaming exercise but this was serious business. The project has reached an important phase in its development: it was time to validate the services and information defined as the basis of the TITAN concept of operations.
As you will recall, TITAN is about optimizing the aircraft turnaround process by making it more predictable. This is achieved by creating a picture of the turnaround that shows much more detail than was previously the case. TITAN uses a service oriented architecture and some elements of the SWIM concept have also been incorporated. All information is shared and users access information via subscriptions and in accordance with the access rights defined as one of the characteristics of the various data elements.
Gaming is more or less what its title suggests: you get some folks together, assign them various roles that correspond to the roles in the real life environment you are trying to validate and they “play” out their role as pre-written scenarios evolve. In the case of TITAN, the whole affair started with the selected participants being asked to subscribe to the information they thought would be required to perform their roles. So, the persons acting as ground handler, airport operator, airline and ATC had to stop and think what exactly they would need to facilitate the turnaround, knowing of course that asking for too much information is both expensive and can lead to information overload.
On 03/11/2011, in Life around runways, by phil
“It’s too much to say I am a national hero, I am absolutely sure that any one of our pilots could have landed the plane and the result would have been the same because we train for situations like this on simulators”, So said Captain Wrona after the wheels-up landing of the LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 767 at Warsaw. And he is absolutely right. No pilot I have ever known has wanted to be a hero; he or she just wants a quiet life and to do a good professional job, as do our ATC colleagues.
As a counter view to the previous article giving the view from the Control Tower, I would like to say a few words about how this incident would have been seen from the cockpit.
I have never operated ETOPS aircraft and so will not comment on the wisdom or otherwise of continuing across the Atlantic with one of the hydraulic systems out of action. I operated Boeing 747s where we had the luxury of having 4 engines and 4 hydraulic systems. But what I would like to comment on is how one handles a wheels-up landing and some of the decisions that would have had to be made by the flight crew.
The first thing is that no-one would have expected the alternate gear lowering system to fail. This consists of a simple electrical system which releases the uplocks so that gravity and aerodynamic loads will effect a free fall of all the undercarriage legs. The failure of this system would only have become apparent during the initial approach when the crew were ready to lower the gear. At this point there would probably have been sufficient fuel on board for somewhere between 1 and 2 hours flying time. Thus there was time to assess the situation, to consult the airline’s maintenance department, try a number of other methods of lowering the gear, to burn off fuel so as to reduce the landing weight and minimise the residual fuel in the tanks, and to prepare for an emergency landing and subsequent evacuation.
No-one wants to have to deal with an emergency of any sort, but these things are a fact of life and are trained for on the simulator. Most (all) aircraft manufacturers recommend, in these situations, landing with all available gears extended.
On 21/10/2011, in Bookshelf, by steve
By Jozsef Torocsik
We usually only review books written in English but every now and then an exception is warranted as in the case of Jozsef Torocsik’s wonderful book about air traffic control in Hungary. I hope an English translation will be available soon because it is simply unfair that non-Hungarian speakers should be denied the pleasure of reading what is arguably the most enjoyable account of ATC in Central Europe.
The beauty of this book is that whether you have an aviation background or not, you will understand every detail Jozsi is talking about as he takes you to the secret world of air traffic control and the wider pastures of ATC training in Hungary.
His own background in air traffic control comes vividly alive and we travel with him to Riga for training and get tears in our eyes when he relates the inevitable tragedies that are also part of life in this otherwise superbly safe industry.
The title of the Hungarian version of the book is of course not Emergence… this is just my attempt to translate the cute play on words the original Hungarian title represents. They took the Hungarian equivalent of “Emergency” (Veszhelyzet) and removed the V whereby it became Eszhelyzet, something that could best be translated as a “Mindful Situation”.
I know the environment Jozsi is writing about well and I can tell you, his stories are spot on.
If you are a Hungarian speaker, get a copy. If not, check back often, we will tell you when the English version becomes available.
In the meantime, why not read some more stories from Hungarian ATC in the Same time, same place… category of Roger-Wilco.