Avionics Digital Edition

Flirting with Avionics

In reflecting on my new post as editor-in-chief of this magazine and successor to Mark Holmes, I realized that I have flirted with avionics for a long time.

This began with my first class on the subject at New York City’s Aviation High School (also an FAA Part 147 airframe and powerplant mechanic school). The avionics lab was tucked in the loft of that school’s hangar, which was an appropriate setting for the study of something that seemed more magic than science.

As an editor at Aviation Week & Space Technology, one of my first tasks was to boil down the NTSB report on the 1986 midair collision of an Aeromexico McDonald Douglas DC-9 and a Piper PA-28. That crash, over Cerritos, California, in visual meteorological conditions inside the Los Angeles Terminal Control Area, killed all 67 people on both aircraft and 15 on the ground. It was the final impetus for the FAA to fortify “see and avoid” with automatic warnings supported
by requirements for Traffic Alert/Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) and Mode C transponders for flight within large airports’ airspace.

Later, I wrote about avionics-related matters. They included the FAA’s commitment to Microwave Landing System (MLS) and the pushback from airlines that they could achieve the same precision and curved approaches with a combination of equipment (like flight management systems and inertial navigation) that was installed on their aircraft already. The airlines prevailed.

Honeywell’s Don Bateman was early in his crusade against controlled-flight-into-terrain accidents at that time, and the FAA’s Next-Generation ATC system was just taking shape. I covered those initiatives. I also had the privilege to edit Philip J. Klass, credited by some with coining the term “avionics.”

This is not to say I know a lot about avionics, beyond what I’ve learned in 30 years of writing about aerospace. But Editor Woodrow Bellamy III does. Over the last couple of years, I have observed him in action at trade shows and our Avionics for NextGen conference. I’ve seen the respect and regard you and your colleagues in industry have for Woodrow and his work.

My main job — and that of Managing Editor Amy Kluber and Assistant Editor S.L. Fuller, who like me have expanded their Rotor & Wing International portfolio to include Avionics — is to support Woodrow in building on our outstanding coverage of this industry. We are all honored to take on this role, together with Veronica Magan, digital strategist and managing editor of Access Intelligence’s Aerospace Group. We look forward to serving you and hearing about how we might fulfill that role. AVS