ATC100 Innovation

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.

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Over the past five weeks, we’ve heard about the best and most brilliant innovations in air traffic control history. From radio in the 1920’s, radar and flight data processing right up to real-time satellite surveillance and digital towers, which are revolutionising ATC today, which one do you think has been the most transformative and the […]

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Since the days of the first control tower 100 years ago – complete with its flags and lamps – airport air traffic control has followed one very simple principle – see aircraft, control aircraft.   But as airports have grown in size over the century, it’s become more and more difficult to give the air traffic controllers the best possible view of […]

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Seventy years ago, there was a revolution in air travel. Radio Detection and Ranging – or ‘radar’ – gave air traffic controllers their eyes on the skies. They could see aircraft, in real time, anywhere. Well, almost anywhere. The truth is radar has always had one inescapable limitation – you need something solid to build one on…

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For my money the advent of flight data processing and the revolution in capacity and safety it has brought about absolutely deserves its moment in the spotlight in the history of air traffic control. Modern aviation simply wouldn’t exist without it.   

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There is no doubt that radio was a game-changer for the first generation of airline pilots. Instead of flying ‘blind’, radio offered pilots the support of a dedicated team of people on the ground tasked with helping them safely reach their destination. It’s a relationship that persists to this day. 

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