The voting is over. The poll is closed. The hustings are at an end. After weeks of searching for the definitive answer to what is the greatest single technological innovation in the history or air traffic control, we have an answer.
With a hugely impressive 48% of the votes, radar is the overwhelming winner.
Radar was first devised in the 1930s, and while it has become hugely more powerful and sophisticated in the intervening 80 years, the fundamentals devised by Robert Watson-Watt and his team remain the same today. Millions of flights a year are safely guided and managed by controllers all around the world using radar, and while things like satellite surveillance now offer a 21st century alternative, it seems radar will be with us all for a while yet.
You can read all about why radar is a deserving winner in Phil Burton’s post.
Elsewhere, radio attracted just over a quarter of votes, followed by real-time satellite surveillance, Flight Data Processing and then Digital Towers. Another 5% of voters thought it was something else entirely, including Flight Progress Strips or trajectory management tools, like iFACTS.
We also had some very thoughtful reader comments. I particularly liked this one from Carol-Anne Garven:
I think probably Radar. But as an LAPL (Light Aircraft Pilot Licence) holder, one of the most comforting things when you’re flying in unknown territory, is being able to talk to someone. Who knows where you are…well, because of Radar. Hats off to the Air Traffic Controllers!
I hope you’ve enjoyed our series looking at some of the technology that sits behind air traffic control at a time where there isn’t much to smile about in our industry. Of course in reality all these technologies – plus many more – are all integral to advancing aviation and keeping the skies safe every day.
This comment from Laura Mato says it all:
Really It is very difficult to choose one of the options, because all of them contributes to have an innovative Air traffic management system
Find out more about the origins of air traffic control at nats.aero/atc100
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