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And. This is the only way to fly a five part series of programs examining the safety of America's air transport system produced by station WABE F-0 in Buffalo New York for national educational radio. On our last program we explored the air traffic control system by looking in depth at the operations of the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center. Today's program is in two parts. The first dealing with an alternate method of avoiding collision the second and longer part dealing with the work of the FAA is Office of Aviation Medicine and daily operations and in aero medical research. The airline industry has been conducting an active search for an airborne rather than ground based collision avoidance system for some 12 years and only in the last two of these has the industry had the slightest cause for optimism in the hope of developing such a system. In December 1066 the Air Transport Association of America formed the CSA technical working group the
initials C.S. standing for collision avoidance system. The group was composed of airline industry representatives officials of the Federal Aviation Administration and the avionics or airborne electronics manufacturers. Their task was to study the technical details of the proposed C.S. concepts and to prepare a technical description of the system that would meet airline industry requirements. This task was completed six months later in June of nine hundred sixty seven. In the words of 88 President Stuart G Tipton a strenuous and unprecedented effort in June a report entitled A technical description of the system defined that system in enough detail to make tackling the problems a meaningful task. And the report enabled the C.S. technical working group to move to the final and most difficult step of all in the development of such a system. In Tipton words the stuff that turns a paper design into prototype hardware tests and tries that hardware and refines it to the point where it is ready for production and sale. Basically then one is an air borne collision avoidance system. And why is it necessary when we were
told last time that the FAA is radar based system is the best in the world. Let's take those two questions in reverse order. The FAA has ground radar based system is the best in the world the best ground radar based system. The airlines however are afraid that they are only half safe and desirous system that can be carried directly aboard the aircraft and is independent of both the FAA air traffic controllers and also visually independent of the pilot of the aircraft. The Air Transport Association sees the electronic system as an extra margin of safety in the event of a failure of the air traffic control system for any reason as a supplement to that system. JL Brennan an FAA report explained it this way. We do not intend airborne collision prevention devices to be a substitute for a ground based air traffic control system nor do we believe that the ground system should be designed to rely on the airborne devices for separation of aircraft. We believe the best solution to the problem of potential mid-air collisions is a positive failsafe air traffic control system under the jurisdiction of a
central agency exercising control from ground facilities. The desirable role of an airborne collision prevention device is that of an independent backup to the primary system. The answer to the second question what is an airborne collision avoidance system is somewhat more complex and is based on what is called a time frequency standard. Brennan's FAA report says the time frequency standard concept involves synchronizing all cooperative aircraft in time and frequency so that range in velocity can be calculated from measured one way propagation time and Doppler frequency shift. The next question of course is what does that mean. Basically the system is a device that can be carried aboard the aircraft to assess the probability of collision in flight with other aircraft. The device uses a digital computer to analyze collision threats. It then calls the pilot's attention to the collision hazard tells him what evasive action to take and when to take it to avoid the hazard. The Air Transport Association explains that the system operates as an automatic count off by C.S. equipped aircraft. One aircraft transmits at a time while all others listen.
The time to complete one count office called an epoch in the system described by the way an epic lasts three seconds long enough for as many as 2000 aircraft within line of sight communication range to count off transmission Times or Time slots are fixed and known. The time it takes from the beginning of reception is used by the receiving aircraft to compute range between the two aircraft a known frequency is used. So the Doppler effect the shift in frequency observed by the receiving aircraft is used to compute the range rate altitude and other information is included in the aircraft transmission. Since the system is based on the measurement of small changes from a known time and frequency it is vital that all aircraft be able to adhere to the specified time and frequencies timekeeping especially offers many alternative design concepts. The agreed system uses a single time standard and has all aircraft recent rise their clocks to this standard. It is in the development of these alternative modes of maintaining the time frequency standard then that the
avionics companies are trying varying methods among the companies working on this project in the CSA group. Our McDonnell Douglas the division of the Control Data Corporation Collins radio Bendix radio the national company and the CAA Research Corporation McDonnell Douglas had some experience with the time frequency standard of airborne collision avoidance from their own test program as builders of high speed fighter aircraft. They soon found it necessary to equip these aircraft in the flight testing program where the McDonnell developed system of preventing collisions between their aircraft which were moving at speeds in the vicinity of fifteen and sixteen hundred miles per hour. The development of this system and its successful use in the limited area and aircraft of the McDonnell test program is one of the recent advances that has given the industry an opportunity for optimism in the field of airborne collision avoidance for airline aircraft. This then is the basis of the airborne collision avoidance system. The 88 is hopeful that the system will be a part of the US supersonic transport production line in the early 1970s as 88 President Tipton
described the advances made so far by the S.O.S technical working group. This is the seed that can grow into a national common system and eventually into a worldwide standard system for airborne collision avoidance. The second part of today's program concerns the work of the FAA s Office of Aviation Medicine and its role in making air travel safer. To get an idea of what the office does I spoke with Stanley R. Molder M.D. chief of the aero medical applications division of the Office of Aviation Medicine at FAA headquarters in Washington. Dr. Mohler what does the Office of Aviation Medicine do within FAA. The Office of Aviation Medicine is under the direction of the Federal Air surgeon. It was Dr. PVC go and within this office airman medical standards for civilian pilots in the United States. I stablished pilot certification from the medical standpoint as accomplished
accident investigation is undertaken for several abdication aircraft accidents medical research is accomplished relating to better ways to improve the safety of flight than the medical and human factor standpoint and an employee health program is conducted for the agency employees such as for example the air traffic controllers. There are then well-defined medical standards for all airmen and FAA employed controllers and so on. That is correct. Starting in nineteen and twenty eight when the first medical standards for airmen were prepared under there not a branch of the Department of Commerce the medical standards have evolved to those that we have today which are listed in Federal Aviation Regulation part 67
at least as important as the skill of the airline pilot and certainly bearing on his skill as the health of the airline pilot what's the what does the Office of Aviation Medicine do in this regard. The health status and alertness of the pilot is directly related to his physical well-being. Now the Office of Aviation Medicine as designated within the United States and actually in other countries too. Abie ation medical examiners who are physicians who are skilled in every Asian knowledge in medicine and there are some 6000 of these examiners who are approached by pilots when the pilot desires medical certification exam and then examines a pilot and determines his physical fitness to fly at what intervals are airline pilots examined by the government.
Airline pilots who hold the highest medical certification in the class once a difficult are examined each six months. The instructor pilots and pilots who fly light planes for hire copilots people of that nature have a second class a difficult which is valid for one year. The private pilot pleasure pilot gets a third class a difficult which is valid for two years. What about the problem with aging of an airline pilot. Most And most any other endeavor really doesn't matter how To what age you work. The significant problem with airline pilots in the 1950s it was recognize that when the Jets were introduced the factor of increased speed of jet flight controls and and requirements in operations would put a stress on the older pilot. Now there was no magic way to determine how. Oh it was too old
for airline pilots. Therefore a committee of experts was convened. The subject was discussed and it was decided that aged 60 would be the retirement age based upon the best judgments of these qualified persons. Now there's nothing magic about this aid except that from the standpoint of judgment the same to be the best aid for an airline pilot to retire. Course we have no upper age limit on other pilots and they may last so long as they pass a medical certificate requirements. The number 60 then is an attempt to strike a balance between the amount of skill the pilot would develop in the years of experience and the deteriorating reaction time. So that's correct it's well recognized that the longer a person flies and the more experience he has the better his judgement develops the more capabilities he has
to predict when emergencies may occur and he makes an all around better pilot and in many ways but at the same time we all experience certain physical changes with age for example our vision gradually diminishes in its sharpness. Reflex time gradually decreases our susceptibility to to contract to fatigue increases. So somewhere we have to draw the line and all were agreed almost unanimously that at the age of 70 was was too old for a jet pilot Captain. And also all were agreed that the age of 50 was too young to turn out a capacitor you might say a qualified jet captain. So they struck a balance at 60. That does happen that some European countries
settle for 55 and. That's the way some countries went but we felt that this factor of experience and the care with which the physical exams are given and the detail accomplished in a physical exam was such that the age of 60 were the safe age. And I think the flight experience since this rule was put into effect in about one thing 60 had borne out the the utility of the age 60 rule. Do you have any figure for the number of pilots that do make it to retirement age a great many people have their eyes fail so to speak in a much earlier age than 60 is do you have a percentage. Well actually pilots of course when they're initially screened for airline work have perfect eyes. And as such they have a better start than say the average person would have a population that say of average people
and that in that there I start out in perfect shape and I think fairly few pilots actually ultimately experience grounding because of of eye trouble I would hesitate to say what the exact figures are but particularly with the skill with which glasses may be fitted today for Presby Obeah which is a condition that the eye experiences in all people as a age provide a situation where where most of the pilots managed to reach 60 and not have major difficulties with a major area of work I'm told the Office of Aviation Medicine is in aviation medical research. Where is this research done and how is it most of our of medical research in civilian aviation through the FAA is conducted at the several aero medical institute in Oklahoma City Oklahoma. This institute is located at the FAA aeronautical center where
all the pilots who fly for the FAA and who check other persons for their various pilot ratings are trained and and. Right up to date and different types of technique in aircraft where all of the FAA air traffic controllers are trained where a major portion of the FAA aircraft is for flight inspection and radio navigation aid inspection are maintained. So this institute is located in a center of quite an active education environment and it's on the field. Will Rogers World Airport and in that institute we have approximately one hundred and fifty persons many of whom are scientists some 30 to 40 who conduct research in various areas of Air Safety examples of our protection and survival. That is to say how passengers evacuate an airliner should it have
some problem on the ground and overrun a runway let's say or have a fire break out have to make an emergency landing and how do we get them out in short order as a time such as 90 seconds. Also we investigate how to design seatbacks an instrument panel so that under conditions of impact the metal and structures in these the seats and estimate panels be performed rather than inflict injuries on the individual. We also have three out of two chambers in the institute and conducting research on appropriate oxygen equipment for passengers in the event of the compressions of airliners for appropriate oxygen equipment for light airplane pilots. And as you know many of the light planes today are getting up to the higher altitudes. We have a program going on the effects of drugs and alcohol even very small quantities of such chemicals on pilot performance.
We also study the effect of pesticides such as used by the aerial applicator pilots commonly known as a crop duster pilots on pilot performance particularly those pilots who are dispersing these chemicals. We do certain psychological studies also such as the means by which air traffic control to candidates may be assessed to predict who would make the best controller. We do certain environmental studies and relationship to heat heat tolerance of individuals such as say the crewmembers of future aircraft which will be traveling at high speeds and under conditions of failure their conditioning system. Cabin may be subjected to high temperatures. We want to know more about the performance of airplane crewmembers. When the temperature of the cabin may reach that's a hundred and forty eight hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit These are some of
the studies that we we've been a Compazine where you work then with the operation of the human in the aircraft of the vehicle rather than study the vehicle itself. That would be primarily true. We were interested in how the human relates to the machine. This is called a man machine interface and interrelationship and we've known it in the past when the human was not adequately considered then the machine features led to certain accidents and these we hope to prevent. You mentioned a couple of things I'd like to just go over briefly you mention the 90 second evacuation of aircraft. If this is the magic number that an aircraft is supposed to be able to meet. Well actually the present rule calls for two minutes and when the FAA and those of industry the manufactures and the airline operators have sat down
for the past two years and explored the various ins and outs of getting people out of aircraft and periods of time and we feel that if we reduce this to minute time which originally was based upon the burn rates of the type of metal contained in jet aircraft. If we explored this two minute time we may be able to drop it tonight a second says the idea. Assuming half the exits were closed and assuming a normal distribution of a passenger load as it's found in day to day flight with respect to age and sex they that might include 15 percent children 30 percent women depends to a certain extent the evacuation time is on the make up of the passengers. So we're going to strive for this 90 second rule and we'll see how this how this evolves.
We were always trying for the optimum and the increasing aspects of safety and we feel that that 90 seconds is a is a good rule for the testing of aircraft for evacuation. You mentioned studies dealing with the effects of alcohol and drugs on pilots. Is this a factor in flying people know well enough of the difficulties of mixing alcohol and gasoline is there a problem with mixing alcohol and aviation gasoline too. Well I think the data in this respect speak for themselves in the light plane area. Our blood tests every video that there have been those who have undertaken flight after a round of drinking at a bar at home and such flights have come to in some cases to sad consequences. So we as an agency take a dim view mixing alcohol with flying.
I date indicate we've never had a case of an accident in an airliner where the airline captain was indisposed or influenced by alcohol. What would it take a lesser amount of alcohol in the blood to influence one's lying and say one's driving. Yes when you grab an automobile all four wheels of your car are planted firmly on the terra firma the way a packet Dahm let's say an elephant is planted on the ground and you merely turn the wheel to the left or turn the wheel to the right. You wish to go any of those directions if you want to go faster you pressed a gas pedal if you want to go slower you put on a brake it's it's hard to conceive it task more elementary are simple. An adult driving a car. Now when it comes to flying We've got a different proposition. Therefore small amounts of alcohol can definitely influence violent behavior.
One other area which you didn't mention comes to mind passenger taking a trip to Europe for instance flies a six hours in the air and when he lands he's 12 hours ahead of when he started. For instance flying from New York to Paris and he find himself disoriented he arrives at an odd time at 6 o'clock in the morning he wants to go to bed and everyone else is just getting up and so on and he has a feeling of disorientation. What happens to the airline pilot who does this maybe two three times a week traversing the ocean back and forth and gaining and losing time. Yes this is a time zone fatigue question and that relates to what the scientists referred to as Sir Kadian rhythms. The two words Circa which means approximately and then which means Day refer to those rhythms which take place approximately within the scope of a day. And for example your body temperature will be at its lowest point about 4 a.m. in the
morning. In our case Eastern Daylight standard time and will gradually pick up during the day and hit a peak perhaps around noon or a little after and it may take a dip in the mid afternoon and will rise again. And after we get home. And perhaps be at a peak around 9 pm and gradually start to fall. Then we hit the sack go to sleep in it once again drop to the lowest point around 4 am. Now our mental alertness and thought processes and reaction times are at their best when the normal temperature fluctuation is at its highest according to various scientific reports. Therefore if one is transported rapidly to Europe let's say through several time zones 6:07 time zones and finds himself in demand for mental activity when biologically his cycle is
at a low ebb let's say he may he may find himself not up to par. Such being the case you had to put forth extra effort to accomplish whatever task he has before him. So so we notice take place with human beings. Airline captains are also susceptible to these influences and I think just as to how much seas influence flight safety in the Captain. No one can say for certain yet some people seem to overcome these these tendencies toward fatigue with these sectarian rhythms when they get out of phase with the time much more rapidly than others. And we rather suspect that through a process of self-selection captains of aircraft to have gravitated toward embed upon those flights which do traverse a great deal the track time zones
probably as a group adjust rather rapidly to this. We know that some people almost overnight can recycle in relationship to the solar day as compared to others. We know some people even after three or four days are still trying to get back in phase after a trip say to Europe while they're in Europe. But we do have a research project on this at the moment and we hope to have some more definitive answers. Well finally as an M.D. specializing in aviation medicine the question that comes to mind is is the commercial airliner a safe vehicle with humans. I would say that it definitely is. When you consider that 90 million to a hundred million passengers are now carried each year and in the United States by airliners and have that number almost infinitesimally small group it is fatally injured during their their flight.
I think that comes to something like 700 a year only. However physicians are dedicated to the safety and health. And the agency my agency the FAA is charged with ensuring that flight is as safe as it can be. So we would have to say that even though record is excellent we will continue to strive to make it even better. But in terms of human capabilities it's flying an inherently dangerous business. I would say that that flying like the oceans you know the Mariners had a saying at one time that the seas were unforgiving of mistakes or errors and flying even more so than the ocean is unforgiving. And in this sense there is an inherent danger. On the other hand with a
properly trained individual physically capable individuals the alert individual flying is is it extremely safe. Stanley R. Miller Andie chief of the FAA Xero medical applications division are part of the Office of Aviation Medicine in Washington. On our next and final program a survey of accidents and accident investigation and a look at the future in air travel. The only way to fly was produced by station WBA for educational radio service of the State University of New York at Buffalo. The producer wishes to give special thanks to Robert Fulton and Frank Buckley c of the FAA eastern region Office of Public Affairs and to the staff of the Office of Information Services in Washington including John Layton David Hess and Denis Feldmann. This is Ed Baron speaking for any our the national educational radio network.
The only way to fly
Episode Number
4 Of 5
Producing Organization
WBFO (Radio station : Buffalo, N.Y.)
State University of New York at Buffalo
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Item 3384 or 3385. This prog.: Modern airborn collision avoidance systems; also medical research in aviation with Dr. Stanley Mohler of the Office of Aviation Medicine, Washington, D.C.
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Producing Organization: WBFO (Radio station : Buffalo, N.Y.)
Producing Organization: State University of New York at Buffalo
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-19-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:30
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Chicago: “The only way to fly; 4 Of 5,” 1968-05-19, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 12, 2024,
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APA: The only way to fly; 4 Of 5. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from