12-29-2005, 04:44 AM #1
New Airline Navigation System Is Displayed
A friend sent this to me by email. Seems we have interesting navigational enhancements coming up.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 - The jet approaching Reagan National Airport followed the complicated turns required for the prescribed route over the Potomac River, banking sharply left and right as it descended smoothly toward Runway 19. But the two pilots never touched the controls. The plane was being guided by the autopilot, which was taking its cues in three dimensions, from satellites in orbit.
Until now, an autopilot could only fly a plane in a straight line or around a gentle curve. But the one shown off Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration was following a path as sinuous as the river beneath, a route that planes use to control noise when they approach the airport from the north. The problem is that pilots can follow a river only when they can see it, and when the clouds descend, National is sometimes closed to arrivals.
But now at National, and a handful of other airports around the country, autopilots can fly planes safely over terrain that no one on board can see, including around mountains. Use of the new system is expected to cut the number of times that airplanes have to divert because of weather, interruptions that cost an airline tens of thousands of dollars in refueling costs and schedule disruptions.
"This is a game-changer," Marion Blakey, administrator of the F.A.A., said in a presentation in a hangar.
The system will be available for use at Kennedy International Airport in New York beginning early next year, and will be ready at airports in Houston and Chicago in 2006.
The new system, called Required Navigation Performance, can be used on an airliner with a receiver for the Global Positioning Satellite system, and a flight management computer and an autopilot, something that most of them already have. Airlines must also train their crews to use the system.
The aviation agency figures that the government costs are tiny, about $20,000 to develop each approach. (This does not count the multibillion- dollar cost of the Global Positioning System.) There is no hardware on the ground.
System accuracy varies, but the one shown off Tuesday at National Airport keeps the plane in a path 1,800 feet wide. An airplane following the route can descend safely to 475 feet, at which point the pilot must either be able to see the runway or must give up and climb.
Using conventional navigation techniques, the plane must stay higher, about 720 feet over the ground, which in bad weather is far more likely to be in the clouds, meaning an aborted approach.
When the system is at Kennedy, officials believe it will have major advantages for La Guardia Airport as well.
The new system will allow a curved approach to Runway 13 Left at Kennedy, so planes can come up over the Canarsie section of Brooklyn and make a right turn to land, as they do when the weather is good. But when the weather is bad, they use an instrument landing system that requires them to approach in a straight line, and taking that route, across Manhattan and Brooklyn, interferes with traffic approaching La Guardia's Runway 4 from the southwest; in fact, La Guardia usually has to close that runway.
In New York, flying to Runway 13 Left at Kennedy has meant that the clouds had to be above 800 feet. But using the new system, beginning early next year, pilots will be able to descend to 400 feet before they can see the runway, said Nicholas A. Sabatini, the associate administrator for safety at the aviation agency. He estimated that using the new system would cut air traffic delays in New York on scores of days every year by "de-conflicting" runways like 13 Left at Kennedy and 4 at La Guardia.
12-30-2005, 10:26 AM #2
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
- Colorado Springs, CO USA
Great article. You know pilots are always told to trust their instruments, but this worries me. How long will it be before a person in the cockpit is no longer needed?Rodney -
Real 727-200 pit
Last Flown as N392PA
12-30-2005, 10:39 AM #3
I fly Airliners and that is impossible the amount of decissions we make everyday regarding our operation could not be made by a Computer reason why the new generations of planes like the A-380, 787 etc that are the planes for the coming 25 years still use pilots there are million of decissions taken each day in the crowded skies that cannot be done by computers.
An RNP has been around for years now is just till now is going to be fully implemented because of the accuracy on GPS.
12-31-2005, 02:09 AM #4
... That question about removing the pilot(s) was tossed around about 10 years ago.
Personally, if there are no pilots in the plane, I ain't flying...Ray S.
"The trick to flying is to throw yourself at the ground and miss."
--Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
12-31-2005, 09:49 AM #5
I have to go with Ray on this one......
I've got enough anxiety sitting in the back as it is, not being able to sit in the Pilots seat..... Now the thought of no one being there.
12-31-2005, 10:22 AM #6
A MD11 pilot I know related a story about the change to flying practices, since GPS entered the cockpit. It is extremely helpful in difficult areas like Africa with poor navigational aided areas, or navigating in areas with high mountains/terrain, or crossing the ocean.
On the other hand it beholds the danger that all aircraft using these capabilities are flying so precise on the lanes, causing them to be head on or exactly in the wake turbulence of the ac in front of them. Sometimes he commands the plane to fly one mile right to avoid this effect, all within safety margins ofcourse.
All the help of smart systems in the cockpit raises the debate how as a pilot to keep ahead of the plane and navigational displays. Cross checking navigational map displays (flying the magenta line) against ADF and VOR needles and indications requires a disciplined mindset. And the availability of these 'old' navigational instruments.
The long and short of it is that we would go nowhere without a professional pilot up front.
01-01-2006, 01:01 AM #7
¨The long and short of it is that we would go nowhere without a professional pilot up front.¨
THANK YOU !
ON the fleet of plane in the company I fly for we have Brand new 2005 A-320´s, A-319 and A-321´s and we also have some of the oldies with IRS navigation Only...
Now GPS ones are far more accuratte and you can see it when you are flying in an airway and a Plane flying on the same airway 1,000 feet above you or below you fly´s in front you see them we are flying the same track basically!! Now we still rely on the Needles... Hence the need of still having RMI´s on our Newer A-320´s and tuning manually navaids for SIDS and approaches!! Cause we always need a Backup! GPS might be accurate but they can certainly Fail! If not we will only use GPS´s and no more basic IFR on the Bus...
Now pilots need to be in front to manage and compare all of this information... Heck I´ve have done one autoland in my life on the real plane and I have to say the bastard lands better than anybody I know!! Smooth Landing! And I´m more than sure that they could perfectly make them Taxi automatically and I mean right after Takeoff I pree AP2 or AP1 if I want and that thing will take me to San Francisco without me ever touching a single switch... But then again you are not the only plane in the Skyes and trust on approaches traffic can be so demanding that a computer wouldn´t improvise the way we do when a controller makes us descend from 8,000 to 4,000 feet in a couple of miles!! There is a reason for the pilot automation I don´t think it was meant to throw the pilot off their Jobs (THANK GOD) But it is more a tool for safety so we can manage our cockpit ans our situational awareness and furthermore to save BIG $$$$ On fuel!!
Just some thoughts!
Take care and happy 2006!
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