Mode S Technology
Quotes from interview with Neil Blake - 12/7/00
Summary: Department of Transportation want to launch a modernization
effort of ATC. Formed ATCAC. ATCAC initially focused on the use of a
satellite system. This idea faded.
Neal Blake worked in the FAA in 1962, heading up the technical
subgroup for the first modernization plan.
"Department of Transportation wanted to launch a modernizatin
effort...Ben Alexander elected as chairman, Dr. Goldsmith at the
transportation headed up the government side."
"They borrowed FAA people to head the surveillance committee. I headed
up the committee..."
"[ATCAC] wanted to address satellites...they launched a program for
a satellite system...FAA would have to pay someone for launching
"Got an argument with the airlines, who wanted to use VHF frequency for
communications...L-band frequency [was what the satellites were designed
"[Satellites] went nowhere."
"ATCAC revised the idea of satellites...wanted the communications to be
Reason for satellites: "Wanted multiple spot beams...to get around the
1,000 landing systems, 112 radars, etc...the cost of replacing
everything 20 years."
"They went through a rough design...we costed it out and satellites were
"So let's look at a discrete address system...send data link messages for
ATCAC: "Really thrust was for satellites...focus was a transitioning to a