Air Traffic Control Association
No. 8, 2015
Series: A Day in the Life of an Air Traffic Controller Jim Larson, Indianapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center
In This Issue: »» A Look at Aireon’s Space-based ADS-B Surveillance »» Aviation History Corner »» And More
No. 8, 2015 Published for
By Peter F. Dumont, President & CEO, Air Traffic Control Association
The Challenge of UAS Traffic Management
recently attended a conference at NASA’s Ames Research Center, at Moffett Federal Airfield in California, for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM). ATCA has been working with NASA, Google, Amazon, and others as we try to understand the implementation of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS). The integration of UAS in the NAS is the most difficult platform introduction challenge we have encountered in the history of flight. The challenge has been everchanging. At first we expected the challenge to be large UAS platforms operating in the same controlled airspace as piloton-board aircraft. This has turned out not to be the challenge. In fact, the challenge is small UAS operating in uncontrolled or, in some cases, controlled airspace. For additional thoughts, look for the upcoming fall issue of The Journal of Air Traffic Control in your mailbox, where I write at length on this topic. ATCA has been working to review and offering input on a number of proposed ATC solutions. As we move forward you will hear more about these proposed solutions.
The UTM conference had the usual suspects in attendance from the aviation aerospace industry, including myself. The thing that really surprised me was the large number of other entities in attendance. There were state and local governments, law firms, insurance agents, first responders, film makers, police and fire officers, drone manufacturers, sensor manufacturers, and many more. This shows the wide variety of interest in this activity. Over time, UAS seems to find a role to serve in every industry. Keynote speakers ranged from suit and tie to jeans and t-shirts (think Silicon Valley) and from young to old. It is fascinating to see all the different facets of society interested in UAS. From an ATCA viewpoint, this has put us in the middle of potential members from outside of our direct industry. You will see some of this reflected at the 60th ATCA Annual & CMAC this year. ATCA is looking ahead to an exciting fall season, complete with our historic 60th ATCA Annual and our Aviation Cyber Security Day. I hope you enjoy this issue of the Bulletin.
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Day in the Life of an Air Traffic Controller:
Indianapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center By Kristen Knott, ATCA Writer/Editor
ATCA Bulletin | No. 8, 2015
Image courtesy of Jim Larson Jim Larson with his family at a showing of The Lion King
“This [administrative] schedule and position has its own rewards; I have more flexibility and it’s allowed me to work more straight days. Now I have weekends free for family time.” – Jim Larson
here would ATCA be without air traffic controllers? Ever wondered what it’s like to spend a day in their shoes? ATCA breaks it down for its readers as part of our Day in the Life series. Jim Larson grew up in Hobart, Indiana, not far from where he lives today. When he started at Purdue University in 1983, he had dreams of being an airline pilot. That all changed his freshman year when he attended a meeting for an air traffic controller cooperative program
with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A light bulb went off; he was hooked. He spent three months at the Indianapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center (Indianapolis Center or ZID) and never looked back. “In school I realized I wasn’t that interested in the lifestyle of a pilot; there wasn’t as much job security at the time,” said Larson. Following graduation, Jim went to the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, OK, in June 1988 and finished first in his class. While he originally wanted to pursue the terminal option, the FAA had other plans for Jim. Through their screening process, they determined his skills were more in line with an En Route facility. The FAA offered him three options: Cleveland, Indianapolis, or Chicago. Jim chose the Indianapolis Center and began his now 28-year tenure there in September 1988. “I love the job; looking back I
would not change a thing,” said Larson. “Indianapolis is the crossroads aviation wise. We handle a lot of traffic back and forth into the Chicago area; it’s a lot of transitioning into and out of the major hubs.” While Jim – now a National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) facility representative for ZID – no longer works the fluctuating shifts inherent of ATC, here’s an example of a typical day for the veteran controller: 5:35 a.m. – Rise and shine. Get dressed and
ready for work. Jim takes advantage of the quiet and checks his personal and NATCA email accounts. After two years as a representative, he’s learned to be as accessible as possible. “It’s a 24/7/365 type of position,” said Larson. “My phone is always on, even if I’m not at the facility. I’ve gotten phone calls after midnight on a Saturday night.” ATCA Bulletin | No. 8, 2015
ATCA: What advice would you give new air traffic controllers?
Image courtesy of Jim Larson
Larson: Once you get in the door, be open, learn your airspace, and listen to the people with experience. Don’t feel like you know everything; there’s never a time you know everything about this job. Larson with his crew of fellow controllers at the Indianapolis Center
ATCA: What was it like helping restore airspace in the weeks following the Chicago Center fire in September 2014? Larson: The overall atmosphere was the most unique thing I’ve ever seen. This was due in large part to the sense of comradery and commitment everyone felt to doing whatever was necessary to making it work. We expanded our airspace for Chicago’s working center. It was something that in reality we had never done before. I was the first to open up the sector to start the process for the Indianapolis Center. Ninety percent of the time, everything is routine. It’s that other 10 percent where you have to be creative and where you actually take control of situations to make it work; that’s the thing I like most about the job. Last year’s Chicago Center fire was the perfect example of that. 6
ATCA Bulletin | No. 8, 2015
7 a.m. – Wake up time for his family. Jim wakes up his kids and makes coffee for his
wife, Shelly, an occupational therapist.
7:15 a.m. – Leave for work. 8 a.m. – Sign in to begin shift. He works his first position (ZID is split into seven areas
of specialization; Jim works Area 4, the northwest corner airspace, which is further broken down into six sectors) until someone else relieves him.
9:30 a.m. – First break. He checks his phone and email and walks to the Air Traffic
Manager’s office to touch base.
10:15 a.m. – Works second position. 11:45 a.m. – Lunch. Jim eats in the cafeteria since there’s less email traffic this morning. Then he enjoys a walk around the perimeter of the facility, which he’s timed to 12 minutes (controllers are nothing if not precise). 12:30 p.m. – Works third position. 2 p.m. – Break. He goes back to his office to catch up on emails; a NATCA member stops by to chat, which Jim welcomes. 4:05 p.m. – Shift ends and he’s out of the gate. 4:50 p.m. – Home. He’s just in time to see his 11-year-old twins off the school bus. His
wife arrives around the same time. “This [administrative] schedule and position has its own rewards; I have more flexibility and it’s allowed me to work more straight days,” said Larson. “Now I have weekends free for family time.” Homework starts immediately and before long it’s dinnertime.
6:30 p.m. – Softball game for his daughter. He’s the coach so he can’t be late. 9 p.m. – Bed.
Space-based ADS-B Air Traffic Surveillance Everywhere By Cyriel Kronenburg, Vice President, Aireon
enhance their situational awareness such as Automatic Dependent SurveillanceContract (ADS-C), but with restrictions in both aircraft equipage and in the update rate between 10 to 18 minutes, controllers remain limited in their ability to provide the desired optimum flight profile and flight path of modern aircraft. With the first launch planned for the end of this year, Aireon’s space-based ADS-B surveillance system will allow for real-time ADS-B data transmissions to Air Traffic Management (ATM) automation platforms and controllers in every FIR throughout the world as early as 2018.
Aireon’s Vice President, Cyriel Kronenburg, explains how Aireon’s spacebased ADS-B surveillance data will help controllers manage their airspace. What is Space-based ADS-B, and Why Do We Need it? Aireon is deploying a set of highly advanced, space-grade ADS-B receivers on 66 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites that will form the Iridium NEXT constellation. These Thales-built satellites will orbit approximately 485 miles above the earth, and each satellite will be cross-linked, creating a dynamic network to ensure continuous availability in every ATCA Bulletin | No. 8, 2015
he end of the radar era is coming – controllers have become familiar with new technology such as Automatic Dependent SurveillanceBroadcast (ADS-B) and Wide Area Multilateration (WAM), providing detailed aircraft information to controllers and pilots. Current ADS-B and radar systems are limited to line of sight, leaving an estimated 70 percent of the world’s Flight Information Regions (FIR) uncovered by any real-time surveillance, which includes oceans, lower altitudes, mountainous, and remote terrain. In oceanic airspace, controllers have become familiar using tools that
FIR on the globe with low latency and update rates suitable for air traffic surveillance. Each satellite contains an extremely sensitive ADS-B receiver, designed and built by Harris Corporation to collect ADS-B transmissions from existing 1090ES transponders while sending the signal back down to the ATM automation platform in a highly available, redundant, and dependable way. Aireon’s flexible receiver design takes full advantage of all ADS-B transponder mandates around the world ensuring compatibility with current 1090 ADS-B versions, plus it can be remotely revised for future standards. This will expand the benefits that airlines get from their investment in this technology under the FAA initiative called “Equip 2020.” What Will a Space-based ADS-B Target Look Like to a Controller? Aireon’s ADS-B system will behave in a similar way to ground-based ADS-B, and to many automation platforms, it will be treated as just another layer of surveillance. Optically, there may not even be a difference other than displaying more aircraft as “surveillance identified” on the screen where they previously could not be seen. Space-based ADS-B will eliminate any blind spots in sectors, including sectors like New York Oceanic and Oakland. All adjacent airspaces in the world will 8
ATCA Bulletin | No. 8, 2015
also have matching ADS-B surveillance capabilities resulting in safe and smooth hand-offs, improved flow control capabilities, better integration of oceanic sectors with traditionally surveilled airspace, reduced gross navigation errors and full redundancy for any Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) in the case of a radar failure. So How Does it Compare to Other Solutions, Such as Ground-based ADS-B and ADS-C? Reducing the time it takes to establish an aircraft position from minutes to seconds will empower controllers to offer more flexibility and control of aircraft in their region. The current goal is to enable 15NM separation standards with a combination of High Frequency (HF) and Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) in the oceanic domain. With direct controller-pilot communication, 5NM separation will be achievable for ANSPs to use as a sole surveillance source or as augmentation to an existing surveillance infrastructure. Although ADS-C has helped reduce oceanic separation, it is limited in its capabilities and requires airlines to equip with specialized avionics. In many parts of the world, only a small percentage of carriers actually contract for it, limiting the controller to providing the surveillance standards based on the lowest equipped aircraft in the mix, and reducing
the overall benefits to airlines. Technical limitations to the system will prevent the update rates and latency that would be required to use it for reduced separation surveillance. Adding real-time surveillance over oceans and remote terrain, using existing avionics, has the potential to drive billions in fuel savings for airlines, far outweighing the costs of implementing the system. Just in Gander and Shanwick alone, it will save airlines over 100 million dollars in fuel the first year of operation through enabled climbs to optimum altitude and reduced separation of 15NM. Significant gains can be made by changing the way airlines flight plan over the ocean and allow dispatchers to plan closer to the jetstream, use optimum flight profiles and variable/cost index speeds, allow early track off-loads to avoid congested oceanic entry and exit points, and alleviate busy oceanic crossing points causing metering delays upstream. I am Not an Oceanic Controller, Should I Care About Space-based ADS-B? Space-based ADS-B will offer the same efficiency gains that ground-based ADS-B offers to airlines and controllers, but without the significant cost and lead times it takes to build ground infrastructure. A radar site easily costs one million dollars per year to operate and maintain, where ADS-B costs only
Aireon is deploying a set of highly advanced, space-grade ADS-B receivers on 66 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites that will form the Iridium NEXT constellation. What Will the Reliability of the Signal be from Space? Aireon’s system will be highly available, designed to support the function of Air Traffic Control (ATC) separation at the same or better performance of other surveillance sources. Aireon is designed to be able to achieve the ICAO GOLD Standard for surveillance availability of 99.9 percent through the deployment of a multi-redundant system. In the sky, the Iridium NEXT constellation is designed to operate with 66 active orbiting satellites, six orbiting spare satellites and an additional nine satellites on ground, all intended to sustain the service. The ATM automation platform will be continuously updated with a status of coverage across service volumes and flight information regions. In the highly unlikely event of a failure, a status message will exactly predict where coverage will degrade. This prediction is accurate as the motion of the satellites is precisely modeled. As the constellation is in motion, an unlikely outage would only last minutes and would be predictable for the controller. On the ground, the Aireon processing system will be redundant across multiple dedicated locations. This redundancy will allow Aireon to continue to operate during emergencies such as communications failures and natural disasters. Aireon will staff a 24-hour operations center to continuously monitor the status and performance of the system, including links
to ANSPs. The operations team will be trained and ready to respond to any critical situation. The system will undergo rigorous testing over the next two years. The testing will be done by Aireon and its initial customers in the North Atlantic and Europe and will ensure all safety cases are being completed. With the first launch of satellites coming up this year, and the constellation completed in 2017, NAV CANADA, ENAV, IAA, NAVIAR, and NATS will have several years to prove the concept before implementing it, with many ANSPs, including the FAA, in the process of joining this group of pioneers. Who Will Use it and When Can We See it in Action? Aireon is currently working with many ANSPs around the world to prepare for deployment of the capability. Besides the Canadian, Italian, Irish, Danish, and U.K. airspace, countries such as the U.S.A., Singapore, South Africa, India, New Zealand, Australia, Iceland, Malta, Greece, and Cyprus have started the process. With the first satellites flying in 2015, Aireon expects to be able to provide a snap shot of every FIR in the world at ATCA next year. For some sectors that will mean a first-ever glance at real-time traffic across their airspace, changing the way they see the sky for good. ATCA Bulletin | No. 8, 2015
a fraction of that amount. Aireon will simply extend those benefits across the entire FIR. Several ANSPs have already started the development of a concept of operations for use of space-based ADS-B to support 5NM radar separation by fusing or augmenting the space-based data with WAM and ground sensors, reducing the need for En Route radar. In areas where ground-based ADS-B is not yet a reality, space-based ADS-B can provide a quick way to introduce this exciting capability to the controllers without the need for long installation projects. A global, real-time space-based ADS-B surveillance source can provide controllers with a common source for data sharing between neighboring FIRs, enabling visibility and early warnings on aircraft tracks outside of a sector, eliminating blind spots, and radar stitching across sector boundaries. In tactical environments where a single radar is the primary source of surveillance or minimal overlap exists, space-based ADS-B can form an independent contingency layer of surveillance for a safer and more predictable surveillance picture for controllers. In the event of a surveillance system outage or malfunction, the controller can use the space-based signal to continue providing a service to operators or safely reduce the load on the sector until a radar picture has been restored.
ATCA Bulletin | No. 8, 2015
This Month in Aviation History On August 6, 1964…
Ensuper; Ivonne Wierink/Shutterstock.com
An FAA rule effective this date required the closing and locking of crew compartment doors of scheduled air carriers and other large commercial aircraft in flight to deter passengers from entering the flight deck, either intentionally or inadvertently. The agency made exception for takeoffs and landing of certain aircraft in which the door involved led to a required passenger emergency exit. On December 18, 1965, the FAA published a rule that extended this exception to aircraft in which the crew compartment door led to a floor level exit that was not a required emergency exit, but which might nevertheless assist passenger evacuation. – FAA Historical Chronology
Photo courtesy of FAA
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ATCA Bulletin | No. 8, 2015
The ATCA Bulletin (ISSN 0402-1977) is published monthly by the Air Traffic Control Association. Periodical postage paid at Alexandria, VA. $5.00 of annual dues are allocated for the publication of the ATCA Bulletin. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to ATCA BULLETIN, 1101 King Street, Suite 300, Alexandria, VA 22314. Staff Marion Brophy, Director, Communications Ken Carlisle, Director, Meetings and Expositions Ashley Haskins, Office Manager Kristen Knott, Writer and Editor Christine Oster, Chief Financial Officer Paul Planzer, Manager, ATC Programs Rugger Smith, International Accounts Sandra Strickland, Events and Exhibits Coordinator Ashley Swearingen, Press and Marketing Manager Tim Wagner, Membership Manager
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