Re: in-flight engine shutdown / antiquated ATC equip

From: (FMCDave)
Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)
Date:         05 May 95 03:27:16 
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>ATC lost radio contact with a UA jetliner over the North Altlantic as
>the Boeing 767, having lost one of its two engines, headed on an
>emergency course for Bermuda ...

:Which immediately led me to think ETOPS.  However, later reports said
:the flight was UA 987, JFK-GRU (Sau Paulo, Brazil), which does not
:require ETOPS even though it does use ETOPS-rated equipment.

>Controllers say that if the plane had been forced to ditch in the
>water, they would not have had a precise location to send rescuers.

:Except, as you note later, the aircraft was in constant contact with
:United in Chicago via more modern communications equipment, and thus
:its position was known and could have been communicated to resuce
:operations should it have been forced to ditch.  The whole article
:seemed rather stilted to me, with the real problem (archaic radio for
:trans-oceanic ATC) lost in hysteria.

There is a movement to the more modern communications with ATC; it should
be realized that the relayed HF communication described above is NORMAL
for most non-radar surveillance areas.  The Boeing Company is offering a
FANS 1 (Future Air Navigation System) upgrade to the 747-400 which
integrates GPS navigation, data link to the airline flight planning
offices, data link to the ATC controller, Automatic Dependent Surveillance
(ADS), and other features.  Many of the data link ATC clearances will be
able to be loaded (by the crew) directly into the flight management
system.  The ADS function allows the controller to set up "contracts" with
the airplane such that the FMS will automatically downlink (via satellite
data communications) the GPS based aircraft position and intent
information.  This upgrade is currently being flight tested in the South
Pacific and is due to be certified in June 95.  Fourteen airlines have
purchased this upgrade.  Many countries are stepping up to upgrading their
oceanic control systems to utilize this capability.  IATA is aggressively
a promoting the introduction of this enhancement to China, Russia, and
other states which primarily use procedural ATC control (rather than
radar).  The 777 will have this function concurrent with the B-Market
airplane and Boeing is studying how it will get this function into the
757/767 and even the 737.  Airbus is offering a package with similar
capabilities but with a common interface to the ground.

One issue is that these packages use the existing character based ACARS
network.  Some people want to move to a bit-oriented system called ATN and
are trying to hold the functions hostage until ATN is ready.  A real pity.
Dave Allen
Boeing FMS
David Allen
Boeing Flight Management Systems