Originally posted by a1ex
What are the qualifications needed for the Staff in charge of Screening the Radars? Average Age? Education? Whos the person responsible if any
errors do happen?
[edit on 11-8-2006 by a1ex]
qualification: you can either get you air traffic training in the military, or at one of several colleges in the country that have air traffic
programs. the military sends you to a four to six month specialization school where you learn the basics, and then you learn the rest at your first
facility. training time is anywhere from a couple of months to over a year depending upon the type and amount of traffic at that facility. the
civilian programs are either two or four year degrees. after you get hired on with the faa, the training time at the facility can be anywhere from 6
months to three or four years depending upon whether you go to a tower or a radar facility. the maximum age to enter the faa is 31.
average age: anwhere from 22 to 60. we have had a huge influx of new hires over the last couple of years because all of those hired after the strike
in 1981 are pretty close to retirement age.
education: covered above.
responsibility: that's a tricky one. obviously, the controller on position takes the blame if he makes a mistake, and the pilot is responsible for
his. in the enroute radar environment where the majority of heavy traffic is worked, a huge margin of error is built into the sytem so that when
mistakes happen, they dont result in aircraft actually trading paint. that margin is five miles laterally and 1000 feet vertically. in the event of
the separation requirement being broken by the controller, discipline could range anywhere from book study to retraining on the sector the error
happened in. in some instances controllers have been made to retrain on every radar sector in his or her assigned area (usually 5 to 7 sectors). an
extreme case of someone who has several errors in a short time period could lead to dismissal.
Originally posted by a1ex
If there was an obvious error which should of been detected by properly trained personel...then was some one made accountable for this error? if
system failure was the cause...then was the system in question ever replaced/fixed?.....
that requires a technical explanation:
there was no error on the air traffic side. you see, there are two types of radar targets in the air traffic world....primary and secondary. primary
targets are simply blips on the screen from the radar bouncing off of the aircraft. modern civilian radars dont track those very well because they
are designed to track mostly secondary radar. the reason behind this is that many different things can show up as primary targets and clutter up the
scope....weather, cars on the road, boat masts in the water, flocks of birds, etc. secondary radar is the information from the aircraft's
transponder which is correlated by the different radar sites and sent to the radar scope, and it is a hundred times more reliable than primary...if it
is turned on. secondary gives us the aircrafts altitude, speed, and allows us to assign a specific callsign to the aircraft which we see on the
scope, as well as do a bunch of other gee wiz things with the target to help control the traffic.
now, what happens when the pilot turns off his transponder is that all we see is that small primary blip, which can become intermingled with all of
the other blips out there (small aircraft flying visually not talking to atc, weather, etc). we can assign a data tag to that blip, but primary
coverage is not very reliable, and its very easy to confuse that target with another.....especially when you arent talking to the aircraft in
question. if you are talking to him, you can identify him by asking him to do things like turn 30 degrees one direction or another. but if your not
talking to him, all you can do is track him the best you can.
to make a long story short, the controllers tracked the aircraft the best they could, but having never been trained for this eventuality and dealing
with conflicting reports on the aircrafts whereabouts, the situation became very confused very quickly. it didnt help matters that norad didnt really
have a clue what was going on.....judging by what i have seen over the last five years, both problems have been addressed and we receive heavy
training to insure that a situation like that never happens again.
hope that answers your questions.