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Cellphones Communications Transportation

Air Traffic Controller Lands Stricken Plane By SMS 177

There's a new reason to hope that the no-cell-chatter bill now under consideration in the US doesn't bring with it a Faraday-cage mandate, and that reason is landing safely. Reader ma11achy writes with an excerpt from a scary story (with an SMS-based happy ending) from the Irish Times: "Five people on a flight from Kerry to Jersey received mobile phone text instructions from a quick-thinking air traffic controller when he guided them in to a safe landing at Cork, after the plane lost all onboard electrical power, communications and weather radar soon after take-off from Kerry airport."
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Air Traffic Controller Lands Stricken Plane By SMS

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  • by Spliffster ( 755587 ) on Sunday August 10, 2008 @08:40AM (#24544717) Homepage Journal

    My Brother flies an A320 for BA.

    They have constant contact via cell phone to their dispatchers. Even tho they require flight passengers to shut down theirs.

    Once the shit hits the fan, I guess it would be the first they use to contact Ground for any vectors, weather infromation or whatsoever.


  • Re:What? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eharvill ( 991859 ) on Sunday August 10, 2008 @08:46AM (#24544747)

    I don't see what the big deal is. People talking on a cell phone is hardly any different than two people talking to each other on the plane. Except you only get (have) to hear one side of the conversation.

    If you don't want to hear it, then get ear plugs, plug in your iPod, or just not listen. I mean, seriously, you don't hear people complaining about cell phones at restaurants, yet it is the same concept.

    When did flying become a "quiet zone"?

    I think it would be a non-issue if people talking on cell phones would use a normal level of volume to speak. It becomes a problem when people are practically yelling on the phone and can be heard three rows down the airplane. Most normal face to face conversations on an airplane are barely audible b/c of the background noise on the plane.

  • This isn't new (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 10, 2008 @09:07AM (#24544811)

    This happens every now and then in Australia for similar sized aircraft in Eastern parts of Australia. It isn't new. You should see the stuff they do when there are lots of aircraft around, they just switch to visual and get them to tilt their wings in response to instructions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 10, 2008 @04:58PM (#24548875)

    The controller doesn't land the plane. The controller works with pilots to keep the airspace and runway coordinated and air traffic moving smoothly. That's an essential job, but it doesn't include flying.

    Dude, the flight controller is so much more important to a flight than the actual pilot that it's not even funny. I am a pilot and "flying" is easy. Seven year-olds have been known to do it and get private pilot's licenses. Try teaching a seven year-old to be an ATC.

    I agree that the pilot kept his head cool and followed procedures, and he should be praised for that. I agree that trying SMS once voice contact is lost doesn't sound that difficult of a decision to make. But this weird defensive posture that "the controller doesn't land the plane, the pilot does" is stupid.

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_