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Since the second world war, air traffic control has grown to become a complex and highly responsible human activity system. In this programme the various activities within the system are examined i...n the light of the idealized control model to see how far the model can be applied to such a system. Decisions on safety and speed of throughput of aircraft are made continually at an airport like Heathrow, and the programme illustrates some typical decisions that had to be made in conjunction with an emergency landing of Concorde at Heathrow. The role of the visual control room, the radar control room and the watch supervisor are illustrated. But if control is to follow the engineering control model, how far are ATC instructions regarded as orders. The views of controllers and pilots are illustrated. An example is then shown of what can happen if the control process breaks down using a dramatized reconstruction of the Teneriffe air crash of 1980. The meaning of an instruction and the nature of the feedback loop are both brought into question. There are many other feedback processes which ensure the efficiency of air traffic control. Those illustrated include direct feedback from air lines. The role of the Air Miss Committee, health checks and internal monitoring of controllers by Civil Aviation Authority itself. The selection & training of controllers is also a key element, and the techniques used are discussed in the programme. Finally, an example is shown of how new technology can play a part in altering the task of controlling aircraft, and how this reflects the dynamic nature of the system.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: T241, Systems behaviour
Item code: T241; 02; 1983
First transmission date: 28-03-1983
Published: 1983
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:23
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Producer: Andrew Millington
Contributors: Margaret Blunde; David Carney; Ian Culley; Bernard Deal; Perce Dormon; Capt. T Lakin; Paul Martin-Bishop; William McColl; John Page; David Park; Eric Thompson
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Air traffic control; Control; Heathrow airport; Systems
Master spool number: HOU4353
Production number: FOUT178K
Videofinder number: 2730
Available to public: no