Monday, October 18, 2010

A1 Priority

Sometimes when you spend a long time reading dry material, tiny points of interest seem proportionately hilarious. From AIM RAC 8.2.1.

ADS WPR is a service that allows aircraft equipped with FANS 1 (the Boeing implementation of FANS) and FANS A (the Airbus implementation of FANS) to provide certain ATS units with position reports.

ADS WPR is Automatic Dependent Surveillance Waypoint Position Reporting and FANS is Future Air Navigation Systems -- that's going to sound pretty funny when it's the LORAN C of the 2040s -- but the funny-to-me part is the suffix designations for the rival manufacturers' systems. It makes it sound as though neither wants to sound like their system plays second fiddle so they don't want to be 1 and 2, but A for Airbus and B for Boeing would also sound like A was better than B. This initial impression is wrong: according to Wikipedia, ICAO initially developed the concept, then a group of airlines asked Boeing to make it a reality. Their system was originally just called FANS became FANS 1 and they are now at work on FANS-2. Meanwhile Airbus' FANS A has been upgraded to FANS A+ and they're at work on FANS B. Not the usual progression of letter grades. I hope they go to the Greek alphabet after they pass Z. The people who control sixty airplanes at once from the ground while playing video games and instant hologramming their friends can contend with FANS 39/Omicron.

Or maybe it will just be called Skynet. In pre-FANS technology, trans-oceanic pilots out of radar range of air traffic control had to monitor and make position reports via HF radio. The difficulty of sending and receiving the transmissions limited the density of use of the airspace. It was a bottleneck, so FANS automates communication of aircraft position. Coupled with improvements in navigation precision, it allows more airplanes to safely use the same airspace.

I wonder if when RAC 8-2-4 tells me that crews should, "use “A-D-S” after the aircraft call sign" in voice transmissions, they mean "Eh-Dee-Ess" or "Alfa-Delta-Sierra." If my training didn't cover it, I'd just listen in and see what other crews did.

Darn, don't you hate it when you're procrastinating but you end up learning things?


Ward said...

An acronym I considered mentioning in the GFY comments was a label a friend once put on a circuit he built: SDA1 "S" stands for super, the rest should be obvious.

The post makes me think about the acronym for Coordinated Universal Time - UTC - which was picked because it _didn't_ correspond to either the English (CUT) or the French (TUC) acronym.

Joël Morin said...

For some reason, there's no use of phonetics when the pilots call in with ADS appended to the callsign; so it comes out as Eh-Dee-Ess.
ADS-WPR has made a huge difference to the volume of aircraft we can manage per sector, as the comms workload is way down.
Even better is our emerging friend ADS-B which lets us use 5 mile lateral spacing between similarly equipped aircraft.
We'll be adding CPDLC (e-mail) domestically in certain applications in the next short while and our implementation of MLAT (multi-lateration) is expanding.
Times, they are a-changing!

(And we still don't allow video games, radios, cell phones, books or other distractions to be active in the ops room - I don't see that changing until we disengage the controller from the process - and that is likely to happen after we disengage the pilot :) )

Aviatrix said...

Joël, thank you. I always appreciate knowing what's going on from your side of the radar. I've only ever encountered this system in the AIM, so everything you can tell me about it in real life is of importance.

I'm glad you're not twittering and surfing the net while we're waiting for our final vectors for the ILS, but I figure by 2040 everyone will send e-mail directly from implants in their brains. Except for hilarious old people who will use the HUD on their iPhone 10s.