Automation and ATC

MJ

Administrator
Staff member
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2,373
Aircraft are in the same situation as ATC. They absolutely could be more heavily automated but regulations have slowed it down thus far.
I’ll think about why as I read about the 37 max

Technology will have a supporting role which will increase as the tech allows, but it won’t be running the operations anytime in the foreseeable future. Even the Death Star has controllers 😑
 
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Nfingers

Trusted Contributor
Messages
234
Also. To further this. We have automation issues here. You want to automate the entire system and let computers determine lives? No thank you, I cant get someone to properly flash to a correct sector. Theres always going to be flaws with computers, due to us or them not comprehending something. With humans you atleast know they're trained correctly, and wont (hopefully) kill others on purpose.
 

GulfCharlie

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FAA
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692
Facility
BNA Nashville Tower
I’ll think about why as I read about the 37 max

Technology will have a supporting role which will increase as the tech allows, but it won’t be running the operations anytime in the foreseeable future. Even the Death Star has controllers 😑
They still had one man pulling the lever, couldn’t even trust a computer to fire a super laser worth a couple trillion Imperial Credits...

Or a computer to launch photon torpedoes down a thermal exhaust port 2 meters wide... I mean if you can’t hit that gap with a computer...
 

GMX

Trusted Contributor
Messages
210
This is just like automated cars. They have to program the car to make decisions like: run down and kill the grandma and mom with baby stroller crossing the street or veer into brick wall and kill the "driver". 3 vs. 1?

I do think there will be more automation as in controllers will "monitor" the operation more than working it but will still be there to make the human decisions needed. We may have computers telling us the exact moment to assign a specific vector and speed to make a perfect sequence, but when something off the wall happens, it will need a human to do it.

They'd need one of these new fangled supercomputers that do a quintillion operations per second to calculate perfectly in any given scenario, or some serious singularity inducing AI, which by that point we're all screwed anyway.
 

DowntownTG

Member
Messages
68
Possibly. There's no reason both won't happen.
I don't think it's impossible for the future. I just see the pilot side going first since there is already so much automation that they are supervising as things are present day. If the humans are ever fully removed from the cockpit, I could see the ATC side of it eventually following suit easily. I just think it will be very difficult to convince people to get on a plane with no pilots and if they don't become fully automated, we won't ever be either.
 

dnb462

Member
Messages
6
Mod note: edited from another thread

Lastly, this career is RIPE for far-reaching automation. 99% of it is memorizing a ton of rules and facts and applying them logically with constant, unerring vigilance. It is literally the perfect application for computer intelligence. The government moves painfully slowly, but it's hard to imagine that there won't be significant impacts in the coming years.
wont happen in my career

yeah, AI will get there eventually but you have to remember google and facebook aren't making shit for the FAA, it's the lowest bid companies doing all this shit.
 

Phillyman2633

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400
Aircraft have been nearly completely automated for years, and yet there are still pilots.
There used to be 2nd officers and navigators, too.

Everyone on this thread jumping down this dude's throat without the slightest bit of objectivity like a robot arm didnt just perform a vasectomy on a grape last year needs to fuckin chill. Yes, robots will eventually be able to perform every aspect of your job (yes, this also includes Cletus "I can work so much fucking VFR pattern traffic, have you ever been to fucking FAY?" Johnson), and no, it wont happen inside of our career span, for anyone that is currently in the FAA.

But if you cant imagine a computer doing your job in 100 years, you're a fucking clown, please take a seat.
 

32andBelow

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1,293
There used to be 2nd officers and navigators, too.

Everyone on this thread jumping down this dude's throat without the slightest bit of objectivity like a robot arm didnt just perform a vasectomy on a grape last year needs to fuckin chill. Yes, robots will eventually be able to perform every aspect of your job (yes, this also includes Cletus "I can work so much fucking VFR pattern traffic, have you ever been to fucking FAY?" Johnson), and no, it wont happen inside of our career span, for anyone that is currently in the FAA.

But if you cant imagine a computer doing your job in 100 years, you're a fucking clown, please take a seat.
I think you can say they’ve already gotten rid of d sides a lot of the time with technology. Similar to the navigator or flight engineer comparison
 

Hyooz

Member
Messages
18
Will it *someday* be fully automated? I have no doubt - but like philly said, it won't be in any of our lifetimes. Though really I'd see the biggest problem - before automation - would be air travel being less and less common. There's a growing movement toward public transportation, and you'll get approval for a nationwide bullet train system long before you get approval to fully automate controllers.
 

atcrick

Member
Messages
31
so i have to chime in. im a retired 30 year atc...2010...enroute..tower..tracon controller, It is happening, tower folks in 1984 when i was hired we had 2 clearance delivery controllers at Denver Stapleton, today 1 cpc can work all the clearances drink coffee and bs with anyone available..Why?
PDC, CDPC. I have since retirement worked at nex gen radar advances that 1 controller works 5 high alt enroute sectors with the aid of a computer.
the program resolves conflicts, spaces and sequences to the airport of each aircraft. I know,, what about wx, and such.. Not replacing the controller yet but reducing the numbers needed.

oh and by the way understanding the pilot is old school, ATC will not use radios...We will only send commands to the glass cockpit..the aircraft will respond not the pilot. its coming folks. Air Traffic monitors paid at 150K not a bad gig!
 

atcrick

Member
Messages
31
so it looks something like this: pc screen next to radar, command prompt to send to the aircraft: UAL123 proceed direct to TUL FPR>>SWA123 reduce speed 20KTS>>AAL123 TR20 Degrees for traffic>>
Theses commands come so much in advance of what any controller could possibly recognize, as a controller you just point and click at the commands you want to give, and ignore the ones you dont want to give, they go directly to the glass cockpit..the aircraft acknowledges the command and away we go!
 

FightingIrish2012

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Messages
622
so it looks something like this: pc screen next to radar, command prompt to send to the aircraft: UAL123 proceed direct to TUL FPR>>SWA123 reduce speed 20KTS>>AAL123 TR20 Degrees for traffic>>
Theses commands come so much in advance of what any controller could possibly recognize, as a controller you just point and click at the commands you want to give, and ignore the ones you dont want to give, they go directly to the glass cockpit..the aircraft acknowledges the command and away we go!
I can’t wait for things like this, I like being a mid-career controller as I know I will be the last generation of controllers ever. That will be fun to reflect on and be a part of history. I love how the shut down last year put a lot of these people who think they are irreplaceable in their place.
 
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atcrick

Member
Messages
31
I agree I love to play with numbers..In 1935 , in Newark , the first Flight Monitoring Center was established . so 85 years. I started my career in 1979 at Cannon AFB. so 40 years ago..I have been controlling aircraft or working in the field for almost half of its existence. to say ATC wont change is really putting blinders on. Archie League would not recognize what you guys and gals do today!
 

blarg

Member
Messages
14
so i have to chime in. im a retired 30 year atc...2010...enroute..tower..tracon controller, It is happening, tower folks in 1984 when i was hired we had 2 clearance delivery controllers at Denver Stapleton, today 1 cpc can work all the clearances drink coffee and bs with anyone available..Why?
PDC, CDPC. I have since retirement worked at nex gen radar advances that 1 controller works 5 high alt enroute sectors with the aid of a computer.
the program resolves conflicts, spaces and sequences to the airport of each aircraft. I know,, what about wx, and such.. Not replacing the controller yet but reducing the numbers needed.

oh and by the way understanding the pilot is old school, ATC will not use radios...We will only send commands to the glass cockpit..the aircraft will respond not the pilot. its coming folks. Air Traffic monitors paid at 150K not a bad gig!
So what happens when there is weather and pilots are deviating all over random directions for various amounts of time depending on their discretion? You can't have one guy working five sectors when it's so busy he couldn't possibly do it by himself sans computer, then have a big chunk of it (or all of it, depending on the weather) require manual control. Can the computer control program adapt to the pilots just doing whatever they want in those situations? Seems like it'd have to be all or nothing, and until the computers can deal with that, you won't be able to run things that way. Similarly, I don't see how planes can be fully automated due to weather concerns as well, unless they start adding cameras all around the plane that don't ice up and can AI identify/avoid weather better than people.
 

atcrick

Member
Messages
31
I get it, look.. I did this job for over 30 years, Pushing shrimp boats on the scopes in ZDC 1984, You probally dont have a clue what im talking about, im just saying progress happens and Controllers are not immune, and yes, less controllers are needed today than in 1984...so my guess in 20 years there will be even less of you. by the way shrimp boats were little pieces of plastic that the D side wrote the call sign and ALT on and pushed then over the primary target.
 

blarg

Member
Messages
14
I'm not implying that sort of thing isn't going to happen, just curious if you actually know the answers to my questions about it. Unless you've been out of the loop on further developments for a while.
 

atcrick

Member
Messages
31
SORRY, No the program I was involved in just ran ideal situations, No wx, ect..I just wanted to add some insight not start any kind of backlash. and yes I am out of the loop for sometime now. But I can say ATC tomorrow will not look like ATC today, I hope everyone enjoys their career, and contributes to the advancement of ATC. it is the controllers that will make the system better, not programmers.
 

Beyondatc

Member
Messages
27
Data Com is currently happening in the centers which is automation. There’s zero automation happening in Towers and Tracons. Centers have the luxury of having ERAM and the type of traffic that is less dynamic than a terminal environment. (I’m not trashing ARTCC).
 
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