Tag Archives: airport

Runways of the Future May Be Circular

Circular RunwaySince the earliest days of powered aviation, runways have had a simple, consistent design: A long, straight path, usually made of concrete or asphalt (or sometimes nothing more than a dirt strip or open field). It seems logical enough, as aircraft need a certain amount of clearance to land or takeoff. Thousands of airports have been built around this runway concept. It seems like an unshakable foundation of modern aviation.

But one group is challenging the notion of the current standard runway. Their so-called Endless Runway project actually proposes circular runways, that would surround an airport terminal:

The fundamental principle of The Endless Runway is that the aircraft take-off and land on a large circular structure. This will allow for the unique characteristic that the runway can be used in any wind direction, thus making the runway independent of the direction of the wind and therefore also the airport capacity independent of the wind direction.

That somewhat technical explanation breaks down to this: If runways are laid out in a circular fashion, air traffic controllers could adjust the entry and exit points of aircraft depending on where ground conditions are most favorable within the circle. Modern runway designs are static and mostly immovable. If there are heavy crosswinds that could cause trouble for takeoffs and landings, pilots and controllers either have to make the best of a bad situation or potentially call for the runway to be closed. But the circular runway design means aircraft can be directed to use the safest part of the circle, no matter what the conditions may be on any other part of the circle.

This approach could make airports safer and more efficient. For more information on circular runways, check out this video recently produced by the BBC.

Is it safe to go Home?

Garmin_gpsI love my GPS and use it whenever I’m going to a new place. Last night I had to go photograph a band at a small club in San Francisco so I programmed the address into my GPS. I also used it to get home since the one-way streets in San Francisco can be confusing at night. Like most users I have a place called Home in my GPS address book. Handy, but is that really safe?

There was story in the news a few months back about thieves breaking into cars at long-term airport parking lots and stealing GPS devices from the cars. The thieves know the owner is away and may even have observed the family leaving for a family vacation. What better time to break into a house when the family is on vacation. Even better, if there is a GPS in the car, there is a good chance it has a Home favorite that leads directly to the goodies.

The take-away here is to not have a Home favorite or entry in your GPS address book. All you need to do is change the name to something else: Bob’s home; Doctor; Church. (If you travel a lot the thief may wonder why you’re going to Church every other day if he/she looks through your GPS Recent/History entries.) If you really want to be really careful, don’t use your GPS to lead directly to your house, but some place close. I changed mine to a shopping center two miles from my house.

It’s also not a good idea to have anything left in your car that has your home address. I think it’s safe to block out your address on your car registration and proof of insurance forms. If you are ever questioned, you can say you did it for security reasons.

Technology is a great time-saver but you need to be careful. Be safe out there!

73’s, Tom

GNC-2008-01-22 #341

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Apple Airport Customers Mad
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