Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 15:13:15 -0700
From: hal lewis <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Air-collision risk due to improved --i.e., GPS-- accuracy
The observation that there is an increased risk of mid-air collision from
improved navigational accuracy simply completes an illogical process that
began more than fifty years ago.
There really aren't many aircraft in the sky. If you count an active
airspace about five miles high (25000 ft) and 3 million square miles over
the United States, you end up with an airplane roughly every ten thousand
cubic miles, so random flying produces a fantastically low collision
probability. (Work it out.) Of course the aircraft aren't uniformly
distributed, but I have personally flown for many hours across the country
without seeing another aircraft, except near busy airports (where control is
indeed important---in the end everyone is aiming for a runway). The sky has
three dimensions, and air traffic control in the vast majority of airspace
has at best a neutral impact on safety.
So the FAA and its predecessors over the years progressively eliminated two
of the three protective dimensions through what is called air traffic
control. Aircraft are now required to fly largely (not always) on prescribed
tracks (airways), changing the horizontal plane to a collection of lines
(goodbye one dimension), and at prescribed discrete altitudes, often integer
multiples of a thousand feet (goodbye another), thereby greatly increasing
the probability of collision. To reduce this iatrogenic collision risk we
have then created an elaborate air traffic control system, which almost
reduces the collision probability to what it would have been if aircraft
flew randomly---except near busy airports. The purpose of the system is not
to reduce collision probability, but to make the controller function more
Of course I've indulged a little poetic license in the above, but the
fundamental error of cramming the aircraft into an infinitesimal fraction of
the available airspace persists to this day and makes no safety sense. It
does make the controller's job easier.
When I learned to fly long ago the principal radio navigational aids were
the famous L/MF A/N ranges (the transmitters emitted Morse code for A
(dot-dash) and N (dash-dot), interlocked in space and time in such a way
that if you were on a specific radial line you heard neither letter, but a
continuous tone). All sensible pilots knew that it is safer to be a bit
sloppy about following that line, which could be inhabited by other
aircraft. Over the years we have steadily thrown away the bulk of the
safety-enhancing airspace, while increasing the role of regulation, and now
we have occasional mid-air collisions at altitude in an essentially empty
sky. It will get worse.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Badwater Bill)
Subject: Re: Some Thoughts on Controllers and Striking Controllers (Attack)
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 03:16:08 GMT
On 31 Jan 1997 00:58:17 GMT, Mark Ambrose <email@example.com>
>firstname.lastname@example.org (Badwater Bill) wrote:
>> I get a kick out of all the whining sniveling controllers ...
>********(worthless BS snipped)*********
>Well bad billy it sounds like sour grapes when you whine about having
>advanced degrees to get your GS-13, when controllers get them right out of
>the military (which is NOT the case). If you're so smart with all your
>advanced degrees why aren't YOU in private industry making mega-bucks
>instead of sucking on the government tit making a lousy $55K? Could this
>be where your real hatred lies?
I was a GS-15 when I retired. Now I do lecture and consult in
private industry making much more. You are right, I should have done
that all of my career.
>Anyone can pick up a book and learn your job, but the controllers job is
>one that actually takes gifted talent. Not everyone can do it, period. And
>that really pisses you off doesn't it?
Bwaaaaaahhhaaaahhahh! You poor uninformed idiot. ANYBODY can be a
nuclear physicist eh? You have no idea what it takes to get degrees
in physics and math. You are the perfect idea of what I think the
controller mentality is. Let's see what you say next.......
>We whining, sniveling controllers went on strike just like the generation
>before them did a sick out for the benifit of YOUR dumb ass. We struck for
>more controllers, updated computer systems, more of a hand in making the
>decisions on safety issues, and you damn right, more pay.
I can't even understand this paragraph. Do you write and speak in the
English language? God, how could you controll airplanes with a phrase
like this?? What will you "try" to say next? I can't wait......
>Contrary to your statement about not knowing about the "real stress" of
>shooting an approach to minimums, it might surprise you to know that a
>great many controllers are pilots themselves. In addition, most
>controllers avail themselves to "fam flights" where they observe from the
>cockpit a crew in flight to understand the pilots better. We had a similar
>program set up for pilots where they could sit beside the controller at a
>scope or in the tower to see life from our side. Guess how many pilots
>ever showed up?
Many? How many? 5%?
Yep! I know about the FAM flights. You underestimate me. I have
buddies who are controllers. Free travel is all that is. My buddies
laugh about it. Controllers get to ride around on jets without buying
a ticket. Typical government puke mentality from a techician level
individual. The pilots didn't go ovserve your side because they know
your side is boring, uneventful, without risk of any sort and EASY TO
DO compared to flying. And, Flying itself is really pretty simple to
do, to boot.
>I guess you're intitled to your opinion. But I suggest before you shoot
>off your mouth the next time, you learn a little more about what the hell
>you're talking about. That way you won't look so much like an ignorant
>jack ass to those of us that know what the hell is going on. Just a little
Yeh, well Mark I do know what I'm talking about. I worked Ground at
McCarren the day the controllers committed treason. I had an ATP and
they needed help. I was also a GS-15 government pilot. I had a dual
roll. You know nothing about me.
>Part 135 Air Charter
>Air Traffic Controller/Tower/Approach Control/Center
>Flight Service Specialist/Certified Weather Observer
>Aircraft builder and sport pilot
>p.s. If you'd care to reply, let's take it off-net so we don't bore the
>rest of the readers.
Oh bull. Come on Mark. Let's let these folks see the controller
mentallity. This is a separate thread. I think some of the people
here will enjoy the contempt I have for people like you. By striking
against the government my interpretation is that all of you committed
TREASON. You know what documents you signed when you accepted your
job. The controllers cheated, they lied, they broke their oath. How
do you justify committing a felony and striking against the United
States of America? In my opinion, that's like laying down your weapon
under attack. . You people would have loved to shut down the system
to get your way. But, it backfired. There were plenty of people like
me who could step in along with the military and learn your job in a
few days. It's a lot different than learning physics. That one
really does take many years. No, Mark, I was working the tower in
three days at an international airport with
ease....cake-walk....easiest duty I ever had!
>my address is email@example.com