Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Flight Patterns

In the space of two days last week I had two unexpected conversations about GPS and flying.

The first was about GPS assisted incursions into air space. Good old GPS is so easy to use: an inexperienced, private navigator simply pops in a waypoint for Brest and off they fly. In a straight line. Straight into Heathrow airspace.

Since GPS has been used by private pilots incursions into airspace have rocketed.

And the second one was at a party on Saturday where, over a glass of wine, I discovered that the chap I was talking to worked for QinetiQ on air flight patterns. We had a lovely chat (boring to everyone else around us!) about air pressures. I hadn't realised that each airport sets it's barometric pressure to a certain amount and broadcasts this for all planes in that area. And once over a certain height all pilots switch to 1013mB for flying. Once you're that high absolute position doesn't matter but relative position (to everything else in the air) is critical and its essential that they're all on the same settings. Makes sense when you think about it.

Eurocontrol has introduced GPS, in the differential mode, for landing but only for those airports where surveying has taken place.

I love parties where you learn things. I recall a New Year's Eve Party in Cape Town recently where I fell into conversation with someone about SAP and production systems. Lock me up someone. rolleyes

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