PDA

View Full Version : Capstone



Ursa Major
11-19-2004, 10:37 AM
Does anyone have any experience using the capstone system in Alaska?

I see that the FAA is proposing the accelerated closing of VOR and NDB stations with their replacement by capstone. The FAA report makes for interesting reading ( www.alaska.faa.gov/capstone ).

Looks like the move is toward equipping all (7500) Alaska based aircraft with the system over the next several years. The proposal includes having the FAA pay a portion of the cost of the aircraft instruments (but not the installation or training). I see some potential advantages involving weather reporting, flight following, and enhanced IFR capability (just what I need in a PA-18), but I'm sure there are some disadvantages as well. Opinions?

mvivion
11-19-2004, 11:13 AM
Mike,

There is no actual proposal yet that tells you just what a "Capstone III" avionics package would look like. There is talk of using some sort of handheld GPS unit for the primary display, there are a number of other options being discussed as well.

The point is, there really isn't a proposal as yet to evaluate.

What the FAA is sorta proposing is to close down a lot of VOR's, NDB's, and other navaids that many of us no longer use, recover the money used to maintain these devices, and apply it to equipping the majority of (note that these things are strictly voluntary) aircraft in Alaska with some sort of Capstone capability. This would include terminals which would allow pilots to upload weather, traffic, via ADS-B, etc, as well as some sort of terrain awareness system, whether it be a Garmin 296 or something else.

I think the concept is a good one, trading equipment that most aviators rarely if ever use for equipment that could make us all much better equipped to fly the friendly skys.

That said, I think they'll have a hard time convincing the airlines to give up all VOR equipment, or NDB's for that matter, since those are often backups when something else isn't working. The addition of GPS approaches should help, but....

Secondly, the other issue is whether the FAA can actually recover money from airways and facilities budgets and transfer it to avionics purchases. Congress will have something to say about that, and these are austere economic times for federal agencies that don't say "Defense" or "Homeland Security" in their titles.

Capstone is a very good system. It works, and is an excellent tool. Its not a panacea, though. It would be a pretty positive step for air taxi operations, in my opinion.

MTV

Crash
11-19-2004, 02:07 PM
It would pay for itself if they would fire some of the "hogs at the trough" that maintain the old VOR's, VORTAC's, NDB's etc. But you will never see that happen in Government. Crash

diggler
11-19-2004, 04:32 PM
[delete

S2D
11-19-2004, 04:48 PM
What the FAA is sorta proposing is to close down a lot of VOR's, NDB's, and other navaids that many of us no longer use, recover the money used to maintain these devices, and apply it to equipping the majority of (note that these things are strictly voluntary) aircraft in Alaska with some sort of Capstone capability. This would include terminals which would allow pilots to upload weather, traffic, via ADS-B, etc, as well as some sort of terrain awareness system, whether it be a Garmin 296 or something else.
MTV

I've thought the same about the Loran system. If they would take the Loran system offline and use the millions saved each year to replace everyones loran, we'd all be ahead. Except the empoyees keeping the loran up.

diggler
11-19-2004, 05:07 PM
[delete

AlaskaAV
11-19-2004, 05:31 PM
I am told one of the major problems is getting the FAA to maintain the ground equipment.

labdad32
11-19-2004, 05:47 PM
I don't believe it is because the Agency does not want to maintain the equipment. Often times with new systems the Airways Facilities folks, now Technical Operations under the new ATO organization, are tasked to maintain these without training, spare parts,and the money for travel, which is a huge expense in and of itself. So, they get these systems pushed onto them and then get spanked when they are OTS for long periods.

My biggest heartache with dismantling the ground based NAVAID structure is that we will be putting most of our eggs into one basket, and, the NDB's are dirt simple to use and work pretty darn well in the terrain we live in.

AlaskaAV
11-19-2004, 05:56 PM
I don't believe it is because the Agency does not want to maintain the equipment. Often times with new systems the Airways Facilities folks, now Technical Operations under the new ATO organization, are tasked to maintain these without training, spare parts,and the money for travel, which is a huge expense in and of itself. So, they get these systems pushed onto them and then get spanked when they are OTS for long periods.

My biggest heartache with dismantling the ground based NAVAID structure is that we will be putting most of our eggs into one basket, and, the NDB's are dirt simple to use and work pretty darn well in the terrain we live in.

Having grown up with the NDBs in Alaska back in the days when Wien installed almost all of them, we could not have flown the bush without them. To me, it would be a total mistake to get away from the old systems untill Capstone is 100% for a few years. There is some really interesting reading through the University of Alaska, Fairbanks which has done most of the groundwork on Capstone.

http://www.alaska.faa.gov/capstone/

StewartB
11-19-2004, 06:00 PM
All my eggs won't be in one basket. I'll still have a chart and a compass.

What scares me is how many kids are growing up in this digital world that can't navigate using their own two eyes and a map.

SB

AlaskaAV
11-19-2004, 06:12 PM
All my eggs won't be in one basket. I'll still have a chart and a compass.

What scares me is how many kids are growing up in this digital world that can't navigate using their own two eyes and a map.

SB
How true that is and it goes clear up to the big iron now days.

S2D
11-19-2004, 07:20 PM
use the millions saved

How many millions we talking about? There will always be somebody lobbying to keep NDBs, VORs etc because they wont update thier equipment.

I can't remember the exact figure, but i was talking stricly of the Loran System which is junk compared to GPS. I do remember when they were going to shut it down a few years ago, they were talking about how many millions that would save. If they gave everyone a substantial rebate on turned in Lorans, I can't see why everyone would not upgrade. I'm not talking IFR here, strictly VFR.

diggler
11-19-2004, 10:12 PM
delete

fobjob
11-20-2004, 12:18 AM
Dig, I've done it, and I've known plenty of TV repair guys over the years, and most couldn't do it; (at least not to the standard the FAA demands) got any idea what the liability insurance would cost?
That's what chased me away, along with dealing with airport 'management'...who refused to include contractors under their insurance umbrella...

Crash
11-20-2004, 12:21 AM
It would pay for itself if they would fire some of the "hogs at the trough

How much does a hog make and how many are there? Is there any maintenance to a capstone system?

I dont feel the FAA should pay for and radios for private sector aircraft.

I also don't believe in hand outs in any form. It's time to move on. How many times has the GPS system been down in the last ten years? For back up I'll just carry a portable GPS that runs on batteries. I don't even have any of the old nav equipment in my plane anymore. I took it out years ago and sold it at scrap prices and I will do the same with any additional planes I buy. Long live the typewriter!!! Crash

mvivion
11-20-2004, 01:59 AM
The Loran system is an interesting example. Several years ago, when there was a proposal afoot to dismantle that system, the alphabet groups, including AOPA, really went to war to keep that system. Now nobody uses it to speak of, but it's a sacred cow.

I told the Capstone guys they'd best not make the same mistake on this proposal, ie: they need to get everybody on board FIRST, then make a proposal. They tend to think that Capstone is the answer to everyones problems and it'll make your dog better looking. Its a great system, and it really does have the potential to improve safety, but it's not a panacea.

Crash, my understanding is that one of the options they're considering for Capstone III is based on a handheld GPS.

I'm a big believer in GPS and maps. Learn to use em both, learn to hand fly an approach, and learn what stalls are, and you'll be a better pilot.

MTV

diggler
11-20-2004, 03:02 AM
[delete

Crash
11-20-2004, 01:15 PM
Dig, I bet you keep a typewriter around just in case the internet goes down. My "handout" comment was agreeing with you that the government shouldn't be buying equipment for anyones aircraft just because the get rid of an obsolete system. Microsoft didn't buy me a new server when the quit supporting NT 4.0.

Be honest, do you really still use an ADF, Nav Com or any such dinosaur?? Crash

diggler
11-20-2004, 06:10 PM
delete

Crash
11-20-2004, 06:20 PM
Escort 110. I understand your hand out comment now. Still dont understand your firing the hogs comment.

It was meant as a "reallocation of resources" comment. See, if we shut down the NDB's, VOR's and Loran stations that are no longer being used, we could save untold millions $$ just in the man power that maintains them. This money could be re-directed to newer forms of communication and navigation systems and possibly we would not need as many people to maintain the new systems. But the way government works they will keep the old systems in place just to maintian head count. Government never down sizes. Crash

P.S. The Loran station on St Paul island of the coast of Alaska has a full US Coast Guard crew that is stationed there to keep it going. It has three towers, each one taller then the Empire State building in New York. Do you start to get the picture now?
http://www.uscg.mil/d17/loransp/photo.htm

I'am a tax payer, this kind of stuff pisses me off!

S2D
11-20-2004, 07:47 PM
P.S. The Loran station on St Paul island of the coast of Alaska has a full US Coast Guard crew that is stationed there to keep it going. It has three towers, each one taller then the Empire State building in New York. Do you start to get the picture now?
http://www.uscg.mil/d17/loransp/photo.htm

I'am a tax payer, this kind of stuff pisses me off!
But that was as much our fault as the Gov'ts . they actually tried to shut it down until the alphabet groups raised to much hell, cause we were gonna loose the use of our valuable Lorans. They just screwed up and shoulda let the GPS take hold a couple more years before they tried.

diggler
11-20-2004, 10:08 PM
delete

Longwinglover
11-20-2004, 10:35 PM
I know I will be corrrected if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember that the LORAN system was kept operational as a back-up to GPS.

VOR's and NDB's were supposed to go away, leaving GPS as the primary navigation source and LORAN as the back-up. I even seem to remember talk of a combo GPS/LORAN nav system and maybe WAAS stations co-located with the LORAN stations?

The whole idea was to get rid of VOR and NDB, but to not leave us with only one source of navigation signals.

John Scott

Crash
11-21-2004, 02:00 AM
But the way government works they will keep the old systems in place just to maintian head count. Government never down sizes. Crash


Actually it did alot in the Clinton Administration. Now with the Bush Adminstration, its another story. If I can find a link about it I will post it.

Yes Dig, that is exactly what your TV says, thanks for repeating it for them. Crash

diggler
11-21-2004, 05:40 PM
delete

Ursa Major
11-21-2004, 07:30 PM
Before this ends up in R&R, I'll repeat my initial question. Does anybody out there have any actual experience using the capstone system?

I'm interested in getting some user opinions on how well it works and what the limitations are.

mvivion
11-21-2004, 10:01 PM
Mike,

Its a great system, with a lot of great features. The question is: What do you want it to do for you?

The system provides a moving map display, which shows the airplane's position relative to terrain (TAWS=Terrain AWareness System, I think), for one thing. It is a terrain database and GPS based system. This portrays any terrain that is well below the airplanes current altitude as one color, any terrain that is of a height within 500 feet of the aircraft's altitude in yellow, and any terrain that is at or above the aircraft's altitude in red.

It also includes ADS-B (for Automated Dependant Surveillance Broadcast, I think). ADS-B basically takes the input from your transponder and portrays it on everyone's screen, as traffic, with a direction vector and speed vector, as well as conflict resolution information. In effect, its like radar without radar, and it's displayed on the screen in your cockpit. You look at the screen, and it shows any participating traffic in your area.

It also includes a data link capability, which at present only interacts with ground stations, which will transfer METARs, TAFs, Doppler radar, and other weather information into your cockpit via datalink.

From the other guys perspective, we are about to spool up an "Approach Control-Like system" for Bethel, wherein Bethel approach function will be handled by Fairbanks Approach Control, without Radar in the Bethel area. The approach controllers in Fairbanks (400 miles or so from Bethel) will be able to see Capstone equipped aircraft on a "radar-like" display in FAI. This information will be from the ADS-B equipment installed in most of the airplanes in the Bethel area.

Its an interesting equipment suite, and has a lot of capability. It's all GPS based, no VOR's needed, and eventually, the data links should be space based, eliminating the requirement for ground stations.

Last spring, I took a Capstone equipped C-185 to the East Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier on Mt. McKinley. The view on the Capstone flight display was really pretty interesting: The whole world was red, except for the yellow brick road, ahead, then turning left, which replicated the escape route out of there, down glacier.

Its great equipment, and has a lot of promise. That said, it's expensive and bulky.

Capstone II equipment includes HITS technology (highway in the sky) which offers the IFR pilot instrument guidance via a series of "boxes" that you fly through to your destination. It is WAY cool stuff, and WAY expensive. That said, they are doing no joke IFR flights right down in Lynn Canal, at heights that would never have been possible with conventional equipment.

MTV

Ursa Major
11-21-2004, 10:15 PM
Thanks Mike,

Thats exactly the kind of info I was looking for. I'm still waiting to see what sort of hand held portable equipment will be (has been?) developed for those of us at the low end of the capstone spectrum. I'm guessing that something that looks like an upgrade of the Garmin 296 system might be sort of what we can expect.