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November 1, 2000
QuestChat with Jim McClenahen

Air Traffic Analyst
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA



last read Wed Nov 1 11:46:00 2000

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 0 - 09:23:24 ]
Good morning today's chat with Jim McClenahen will begin at 10 AM this morning. Be sure to read his bio prior to the chat, http://quest.nasa.gov/aero/team/mcclenahen.html

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 2 - 09:29:56 ]
After the chat we would really appreciate it if you would take the time to complete the feedback form at http://quest.nasa.gov/activities/chats/feedback.html

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 4 - 10:02:35 ]
Jim is an expert on air traffic expert. Do you have any questions about air traffic for him?

[ ATCJim - 5 - 10:04:05 ]
RE: [David] My question: will the Soyuz spacecraft be displayed on the same orbiter web site as the space shuttles have been displayed in the past? I have been following the orbits of the ISS & space shuttles on each flight. I am interested in doing the same for this flight.
David, I don't know the answer to your question, but I recommend you check the Space Station web site.

[ David - 7 - 10:05:39 ]
My question does not deal with air traffic - does my question have to deal with air traffic only?

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 8 - 10:05:39 ]
No not really but this is a great chance to learn about air traffic from an expert!

[ ATCJim - 10 - 10:07:41 ]
RE: [SherwoodElementaryArnoldMissouri] How real does a simulated atc tower seem when you are in it?
Arnold, very good question! We have to make it real enough so that "REAL" FAA Air Traffic Controllers can conduct the operation of their airport just like real time. It is a very real interactive simulation.

[ ATCJim - 13 - 10:09:49 ]
RE: [David] I have done that but was unable to find any place to direct my question - thought you might be able to help. Thanks anyway.
David, then I would check the NASA web site and look for links to the space station.

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 14 - 10:10:10 ]
Jim I agree with you! I have been in the simulator and it is amazing!

[ chris - 18 - 10:13:36 ]
hi everyone

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 19 - 10:13:36 ]
Hi Chris, Glad you could join us!

[ ATCJim - 20 - 10:13:41 ]
RE: [SherwoodElementaryArnoldMissouri] How are all the ATC towers in the country tied together, or are they?
Arnold, ATC towers are tied together by interphones circuits and computers. In addition, in the busy terminal areas like New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the towers can see each other on the "terminal radar" systems.

[ ATCJim - 22 - 10:16:03 ]
RE: [MrThomasstudentAllison] What training did you have to go through?
Allison, my training for the job I do now, was the experience I received during the 32 1/2 years working as a air traffic controller, supervisor & manager for the FAA. However, to be a air traffic controller, you need to have a four year degree with some aviation background.

[ chris - 23 - 10:16:06 ]
how is NASA today?

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 24 - 10:16:06 ]
NASA is great! Do you have a question for Jim about air traffic management?

[ Mr.Boyd/SherwoodElementary - 28 - 10:19:38 ]
We meant planes "in" trouble

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 31 - 10:22:20 ]
RE: [SherwoodElementaryArnoldMissouri] Does your system simulate planes and trouble - and could you tell us a few examples if it does?
Arnold, we model over 50 different types of aircraft. We can simulate emergency and have the emergency equipment (fire trucks, etc) to do it.

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 33 - 10:23:25 ]
RE: [MrThomasstudentAllison] Do any of your college friends that has the same degree work around you?
Yes, there are 4 of us who work here at NASA-Ames in the different air traffic control projects.

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 36 - 10:24:20 ]
RE: [chris] is it a hard job
Cris, the job can be very demanding because of time requirements, but it is a very fun job.

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 38 - 10:25:30 ]
RE: [Mr.Boyd/SherwoodElementary] We meant planes "in" trouble
Mr Boyd, yes we can simulate when a plane gets into trouble, both airborne or on the ground.

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 43 - 10:27:33 ]
RE: [SherwoodElementary/ArnoldMIssouri] How long has this ATC simulator technology been around, and did NASA develop it?
Arnold, Serious ATC simulator technology has been around for about 15 years. NASA was asked by the FAA to develop a facility, ATC Tower, for the purpose of conducting research for airports.

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 46 - 10:30:56 ]
RE: [MrThomasstudentAllison] How do you make the air traffic safer?
Allison, very good question. In today's system, most changes are made and tested in a real operational environment. Future Flight Central allows this to be done in a simulation environment and when mistakes are made, safety of always maintained.

[ 25studentsSherwoodElementary/ArnoldMIssouri - 47 - 10:30:59 ]
Is it a single computer that runs all of this- how much computing power does the simulator systems require?

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 48 - 10:30:59 ]
Great question Sherwood what grade are you in?

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 49 - 10:32:12 ]
RE: [25studentsSherwoodElementary/ArnoldMIssouri] How many hours a week do you usually work? Is it a 9 to 5 type of a job?
Some times I work 50 - 60 hours a week, but that only happens when we are getting ready to do a simulation. Otherwise, 40 hours a week.

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 50 - 10:32:45 ]
RE: [MrThomasstudentAllison] Do you have any women work around you?
Yes

[ 25studentsSherwoodElementary/ArnoldMIssouri - 51 - 10:32:56 ]
We are grade 4 (9 and 10 year olds). The questions are really from the students - not me.

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 52 - 10:35:06 ]
RE: [25studentsSherwoodElementary/ArnoldMIssouri] Is it a single computer that runs all of this- how much computing power does the simulator systems require?
Future Flight Central is powered by 6 SGI Reality Engines that put up to 2 gigs of visual memory on each of the 12 screens.

[ 25studentsSherwoodElementary/ArnoldMIssouri - 53 - 10:35:42 ]
Sherwood has to go to lunch now. We tried to figure out a way to eat lunch and do this at the same time but weren't successful. It is 12:30pm here. Thank you! We will check out the rest of the chat when it is posted. Thank you!!!!!

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 56 - 10:40:06 ]
RE: [Jack] How much overtime do you work ?
We try not to work overtime, but when we are preparing for a simulation it can happen, most of the time I just take additional time off when it becomes available

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 57 - 10:41:44 ]
Alison do you want to be an air traffic controller? the head of Jims project is Nancy Dorighi her bio is online at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/women/bios/nd.html

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 58 - 10:42:33 ]
RE: [MrThomasstudentAllison] What were your previous jobs before you started NASA?
I was an air traffic controller, supervisor & manager in the FAA for 32 1/2 years, leaving in 1994 and coming to work for NASA.

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 59 - 10:44:26 ]
RE: [SherwoodElementary/ArnoldMIssouri] How large large of an area does your ATC simulator take up?
It is located in a building next to my office, the facility is two stories high, and the tower cab is the same size as a real air traffic control tower cab, in fact it is the same size as the tower located at Los Angeles Int'l Airport.

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 60 - 10:48:04 ]
RE: [Jack] In the recent crash with the 747, why did those pilots take off in a Monsoon....Poor visibility, bad weather, strong winds, Was it a pride thing......Are the pilots of today to macho and too to inexperienced?
I really don't know the answer to your question, but I do know that everything in flying is based on safety. Safety is the number 1 factor. A cockpit crew make their decision on information they receive. But, the decision is always based on the safe operation of the plane. Last, I don't think pilots have ego problems, their training doesn't allow it.

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 61 - 10:51:20 ]
RE: [MrThomasstudentAllison] What high school courses did you take?
I took lots of math, English, science and history courses. To be an air traffic controller, any courses that help you develop the ability to think 3-D will prepare you for a career in ATC.

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 62 - 10:51:42 ]
We still have time for a few more questions, also I would reall appreciate your feedback, you can submit that at http://quest.nasa.gov/activities/chats/feedback.html

[ Susan/NASAChatHost - 64 - 10:58:32 ]
Great questions everybody! Come again!

[ JimMcClenahen/AMES - 65 - 11:03:25 ]
RE: [Susan/NASAChatHost] Good bye then if there are no more questions, Thanks Jim! Great answers I learned a lot!
Susan and all who submitted the questions, I really enjoyed chatting with everyone. My recommendation to all who are interested in careers in aviation to take subjects that will prepare them. Aviation careers are very rewarding and never boring. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your schools.

 
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