compassion, collaboration & cooperation iN transistion
the USA and the UK and the tragic mid-air collision over the Grand Canyon •
which led to an awakening realisation in the USA, that commercial Air Traffic
had been flying from point to point, without any form of control whatsoever,
other than occasional exchanges of Flight Information • a robust system of
Air Traffic Control was therefore consequently established for the first time.
[IT] was of course he who had established an Air Traffic Control System similar
to our own here in the UK, in Germany as part and parcel of The Marshall Plan
that took on the role of Chief Instructor and ATC Cadet Course Team Leader of
my own course of students fresh from Grammar School with the appropriate
academic qualifications. So [IT] was hardly surprising that we were soon steeped
into developing our own understanding of the AFTN and the phonetic alphabet,
Meteorology and Systems Design on the IBM 64K core store mainframe at
the major centers. Some long distance and international links were based on
duplex radioteletype transmissions and leased lines, before it was subsequently
links at much higher data rates. As the AMHS comes online over the next
decade, it will switch to X.400 links, with either dedicated lines or tunneled
The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, commonly known as Eurocontrol was first mooted in 1960 when The Eurocontrol Convention was signed and subsequently ratified in 1963. Before the Convention entered into force that year, there were already indications that the matter of national sovereignty would complicate the full implementation of the organisation’s founding mission.
The first European plan for a harmonised air traffic control (ATC) system, proposed in 1962, was beset by the refusal of both France and Britain to comply, largely due to reasons closely linked with their national military airspace control. The other four original members (the Federal Republic of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) agreed in 1964 to set up a single international air traffic control centre to manage their upper airspace, 'centred' on the airport at Beek to the north of the Dutch city of Maastricht.
[IT] was following my own Air Traffic Controller training and more specifically my Joint Civil/Military Area Radar training at RAF Sopley, that I was seconded by the then Ministry of Aviation [MOA] firstly to Eurocontrol Brussels and then subsequently to the Maastricht UAC in Beek, following its opening; where I was involved in the training of other ATCOs and the development of my original idea of utilising the 1.5GB digital data capability of the Philips Laserdisc System, with the Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunications Network [AFTN], to facilitate the expedition of radar-handovers between LATCC and the Maastricht UAC.
As Ed Catmull has written in his epic book CREATIVITY, INC.
"Though it was housed within the Defense Department, its mission was
ostensibly peaceful: to support scientific researchers in America's universities
in the hopes of preventing what it termed "technological surprise." By way of
sponsoring our best minds, the architects of ARPA believed, we'd come up with
better answers. Looking back, I still admire that enlightened reaction to a
serious threat: WE'LL JUST HAVE TO GET SMARTER. ARPA would have a
profound effect on America, leading directly to the computer revolution and
the Internet, among countless other innovations. There was a sense that big
things were happening in America, with much more to come. Life was full of
possibility. In fact, one of ARPA's proudest achievements was linking
universities with something called "ARPANET," which would eventually evolve
into the INTERNET [of interconnecting networks] • the first four nodes of the
ARPANET were at Stanford Research Institute, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, and
the U of U, so I had a ringside seat from which to observe this grand
experiment, and what I saw influenced me profoundly."
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