This is an emergency!! Your help is urgently needed!
Since the day that Jimmy Doolittle, a great American hero, first proved that pilots could land airplanes under zero visibility conditions, governments have operated under the assumption that air traffic could best be managed from the ground. For a time, an air traffic management system based on radar and voice communications served us well. However, because today's airports have grown so complex, and the airspace that approches them, so crowded, radar is no longer able to meet the needs that safety demands.
Almost daily, we hear horror stories about the dilapidated state of affairs the current air traffic management system has gotten itself into. Such statements as: "the world's largest purchaser of vacuum tubes . . , radar screens shutting down . . . airplanes disappearing from radar screens . . . power outages . . . no backup . . . no communications . . . antique computers and software so old they can no longer be serviced," are common. After expenditures of billions of dollars over the past decade on such projects as the microwave landing system (MLS), the airport surface traffic automation system (ASTA), airport surface detection equipment (ASDE radar), the automated air traffic management system (ATM), the traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS), and the wide area augmentation system (WAAS), the FAA has suddenly been forced to either cut back or entirely eliminated some of these projects. Why? Most have experienced problems and cost overruns, but all too often, once the technology has been implemented, the systems have not performed as promised or expected.
Fortunately, a new concept called free flight promises to reverse all that. Free flight is a good thing because it will bring air traffic management back into the cockpit where it belongs. In order for that to happen however, pilots need to provide the leadership necessary to help the industry correctly institute that change. Those of us who are pilots do have a choice as to what technology will most safely lead aviation into the 21st century.
Free flight can be simple, and for general aviation, quite inexpensive.
The threat of an unsafe air traffic management system has a chilling affect on pilots and the flying public. Most pilots have experienced some of its dangers first hand. These are the war stories shared in various pilots' lounges around the world. Still, we might draw an analogy: How many times in a lifetime have you seen two birds collide in mid-air? Even under the most extreme traffic densities or harsh weather conditions, birds seem well-equipped to sense each other's presence, avoid collisions and make safe landings. How do they do that? Whatever they have is exactly what pilots need: pilots need to be able to see, hear, and feel the presence of other airplanes, and maneuver safely, just as easily as birds. And, when the euphoric experience of flight ends: that is, when you must come down, it is also important to know where the rocks, trees, water, radio antennas, buildings and power lines are.
The purpose of this Web site is to introduce pilots to a patented technology, a virtual extension of the basic human senses, called SCAN (Surveillance, Communications And Navigation). The company behind the advancement of the SCAN technology is TERRASTARR, Inc. As you leaf through these pages, you will see that SCAN is not some futuristic dream of tomorrow. It is here today. With a little help from pilots, SCAN will soon be ready to fly so that pilots can begin to enjoy its many benefits. The best news is: SCAN was conceived by pilots--for pilots.
Never before, have pilots had a greater opportunity to lead in advancing a new piece of avionics technology. So that we all might be able to operate safely in the 21st Century, we invite you to join us. Read on, and we'll let you know what you can do to help.
The SCAN concept, a technology which is vital the implementation of free flight, is based upon a patented technology (U.S. Patent Number 5,153,836) titled: Universal Dynamic Navigation, Surveillance Emergency Location, and Collision Avoidance System and Method. By providing a graphic picture of each pilot's surrounding airspace, SCAN greatly lightens the workload for pilots and air traffic controllers, making the airspace and airports more safe. By removing the anxiety that often accompanies flying, it also makes flying more fun. Pilots and controllers who have seen TERRASTARR's SCAN technology agree--SCAN represents the most important technology advancement in air navigation, surveillance and communications since radar.
Imagine yourself in several years, sitting behind a SCAN screen in the cockpit with a clear picture of your surrounding airspace, out to at least 40 miles. At a glance, you immediately recognize the various types of aircraft by their "type" symbols. Relative altitudes, headings, flight vectors and 3-D velocities are also readily apparent. Amazingly, when an aircraft passes by, you can also locate it by hearing it in much the same way as you do from the ground. Unlike TCAS, you never see a ghost image or receive a false traffic advisory alert.
Since SCAN operates with much higher precision and quicker update rates than radar, Category III (CAT III) landings are possible at any airport in the world under nearly any weather condition, assuming of course that the airport has been accurately surveyed. Unlike current radar and TCAS, Controllers inside airport towers or air traffic control facilities who use SCAN, see the same relative picture as pilots. For approach, a simple routing command is issued to a specific aircraft, which is then portrayed on the SCAN display as graphic lines with marked approach waypoints and assigned altitudes clearly visible to the pilot. For final approach, a series of floating rectangles mark the proper horizontal slot and approach angle through which the pilot navigates for a perfect landing. If a power outage should inadvertently occur on the ground, all aircraft are able to continue to safely carry on with assigned approach, landing, taxi and departure maneuvers without interruption. If every aircraft were equipped with SCAN, even under the most dire circumstances the ground-based air traffic management system could be backed up by a portable SCAN radio and a commercially available laptop computer.
In an emergency situation, a specially designed notification system alerts all other pilots and controllers in the vicinity that such an emergency is in progress. It pinpoints the exact location making help easy to deliver. Full "black-box" capability and flight recordings improve the training/review process. ATIS, as well PIREPS, NOTAMS and the most current enroute weather reports and forcasts, are available to all pilots at all times. Moving computer maps, charts and approach plates simplify navigation and identify airports, VOR's and NDB's. Outstanding landmarks and obstructions are visible even under darkness or the most adverse weather conditions. Micro-bursts, tornados and wake turbulance are readily tracked and displayed. In-trail climbs and descents can be conducted with precision and confidence. Automated digital SCAN flight plan filing takes the frustration out of waiting on the telephone. The need to find a vacant slot over the comm radio has become ancient history.
"Free flight" is a new idea whose time has come. After developing the technology and securing a patent, TERRASTARR first advocated the autonomous aircraft control concept to the FAA as early as February of 1991. Although little interest was shown at that time, the idea is now quickly gaining wide support. Many people however remain skeptical and nervous about free flight's outcome. In fact, some are downright frightened. It is hard for those of us who have been a part of the "system" for so long to understand how free flight could bring on anything other than complete confusion and chaos, especially in high-density airspace and at busy airports. Fortunately, quite the opposite is true. Given enough of the right kind of information, the pilot is in a much better position than ground controllers to make safe command decisions. Controllers agree. If the threat of mid-air collisions and runway incursion incidents can be eliminated, public safety will be greatly enhanced. Contrary to the opinion of some, SCAN does not threaten the jobs of controllers but makes their jobs much easier and less stressful. With SCAN, controllers can concentrate on areas of greatest concern rather than operating in a perpetually tense environment as they so often are required to do today. Ultimately, wide use of SCAN will make the airspace much safer for everyone. Direct routing will save time, greatly improve airport sequencing and result in fuel saving amounting to billions of dollars annually. Rules which no longer best serve the aviation industry and public safety should be revised or eliminated.
TERRASTARR's technology concept and platform are ideal to usher in this new age of free flight, and surprisingly, at a very modest cost to all of general aviation. While TCAS II costs around $250,000 per unit, and TCAS I $50,000, SCAN would deliver far more benefits at a cost from $3,000 to $25,000.
The recent FAA Administrator and Secretary of Transportation openly advocated supporting the development of new technology and a streamlining of the technology procurement process. However, experience has proven quite the opposite. In 1991, the FAA flatly rejected the idea of free flight and autonomous aircraft control. The deployment of GPS has altered the FAA's thinking in that regard, and slowly it is becoming a powerful advocate. However, it appears that all alternative technologies are currently being rejected in favor of the transponder. Even with its latest enhancements, the transponder represents 1960's vintage technology. The reason given for adopting such a policy is TCAS compatibility. Unfortunately, modifying the transponder greatly degrades the potential of any new data link's system performance and significantly adds to its complexity and cost.
Contrary to the FAA's compatibility claim, converting the transponder into a data link will not make the Mode S section of the transponder compatable with TCAS--it will only add yet one more tier to the top of the already overburdened ATC radar system. True, TCAS has successfully added a new level of safety to airliners. What is not often stated is the fact that it has also introduced a new level of hazards. In several cases, false TCAS resolution advisories (RA's) have nearly caused the very condition TCAS was designed to prevent--mid air collisions. When a TCAS accident happens, it very likely could happen between two airliners, both having TCAS. One airline company has reported as many as 179 unexplained incidents--false TCAS alerts--occurring over a period of less than two years. The FAA's current policy discourages innovation and unnecessarily complicates the free flight implementation phase and compromises safety. While the FAA predicts a 10 year implementation plan for free flight, SCAN could fully deploy free flight throughout the total U.S. fleet within a period of 3 to 5 years.
Some months ago, the FAA issued a $475 million contract for a Wide Area Augmentation of Differential GPS (WAAS), a system designed to eliminate the Selective Availability (SA) error purposely put into the GPS signal by the government's GPS controlling agency, the Department of Defense. Even more recently, the White House issued a new GPS policy statement calling for the elimination of SA error within the next 10 years. This contradiction causes one to wonder: (1) If the SA error can so easily be eliminated with WAAS, there is no national security reason for leaving the SA error in the GPS signal, and (2) if the SA error is to be eliminated within ten years anyway, why spend $475 million for WAAS today (which will take ten years to implement)? That amount of money spent on SCAN would equip 2/3rds the entire U.S. fleet.
Adoption of SCAN would eliminate unnecessary duplication of effort and waste of taxpayer funds. It would greatly simplify and streamline the free flight implementation phase. Since relative positioning between aircraft is already accurate to 1 meter horizontal and 1.5 meters vertical, the only correction necessary for precision approaches into airports where the error needs to be dealt with, can be provided using a local area augmentation (LAAS) system. This method is far less costly and would be sufficient for all users until the selective availability error is eventually turned off.
TERRASTARR predicts that an immediate 50% reduction in air related fatalities would occur with wide-scale implementation of SCAN.
The question arises: Why would pilots purchase SCAN if its not mandated? The answer seems simple: SCAN delivers more benefits to the pilot than all other avionics equipment in the cockpit combined. Adding the SCAN collision avoidance, data communications and emergency location features adds very little extra cost to an otherwise standard GPS package.
Stay tuned. We need your support. If you are interested in being a part of this new innovative process, we'll let you know very soon exactly what you can do to help.
For now, we would appreciate it if you would read all the information included in this web site, let us know who you are and direct any questions or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edward J. Fraughton