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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 satellitees."

  • "Got an argument with the airlines, who wanted to use VHF frequency for communications...L-band frequency [was what the satellites were designed for..]"

  • "[Satellites] went nowhere."

  • "ATCAC revised the idea of satellites...wanted the communications to be digital..."

  • Reason for satellites: "Wanted multiple spot 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 very high."

  • "So let's look at a discrete address system...send data link messages for collision avoidance."

  • ATCAC: "Really thrust was for satellites...focus was a transitioning to a satellite system."

  • The Story of Mode S: An Air Traffic Control Data Link Technology last modified: 12.06.2000