Not very long ago, my wife and I bought some new bedroom furniture. When we left the furniture store, I was a little stressed at spending so much money, but I was relieved that the pilgrimage to find the perfect bed, nightstands, dresser, etc, was over. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The new furniture was the first class ticket my wife needed in order to upgrade the carpet. And; who on earth in their right mind would get new carpet without repainting the entire bedroom and closet? Before the quest was completely over, we had new window treatments, the satellite guy had come back out (twice) and now there’s even a new Tiffany lamp in the corner. Men, when your wife says that she’s “tired of the old bed,” be very, very, cautious and take full stock of your current home improvement budget before you respond! You may want to review the history of the home improvement programming your wife has been watching on the “nesting channels” too.
Six weeks after the bedroom project started, it was finally finished. I was walking out of the master bath and I was headed for my side of the bed in the darkened new bedroom when it happened, I struck the new mission style table at the foot of the bed with enough force to scrape a 5” trough of skin out of my naked leg, right below the knee. My brain forgot it was there, hell, I don’t think anyone told my brain it was there in the first place.
That accident never would have happened if someone had placed tiny little lights at the corners of the table. Wouldn’t it be even better if the lit position of those corners could be transmitted to a handheld device? I could walk through my house naked in the dark all night long without fear of a stubbed toe or scraped leg! I could make it down both flights of stairs, tap myself a beer in the bar, and make it all the way back to the bed without turning on so much as a night light!
This is the goal of airport everywhere, not to walk naked through the airports but to broadcast the positions of the danger zones. GBAS stands for Ground Based Augmentation System and you’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the coming days and years of air travel. A GPS system alone isn’t quite accurate enough to aid a pilot in takeoff and landing. Take my situation in the bedroom for example, my GPS would have told me I was in my house, but it’s not sensitive enough to know where in the house, let alone how many inches I was away from the table.
The new GBAS system makes up for that loss of accuracy. Beacons are placed near the dangerous “corners” of runways and airport taxi-ways and they broadcast their exact location up to satellites. These satellites relay the dangerous zones down to the GPS receivers in the cockpit. It’s much more reliable than radar since mountains, bad weather, tall buildings, etc, wouldn’t interfere. Right now, there’s an FAA mandated 120 second cushion between planes as they line up for landing. With GBAS in place, experts say that interval could be reduced by 30 seconds without losing any margin of safety! It may not sound like much, but 25% less time between landings multiplied by thousands of landings per day… you get the drift; less congestion, more traffic flow, less delays, etc.
So don’t be afraid of this technology! When you hear about it, embrace it, support it, look forward to its implementation, be patient during its testing period, good things are definitely coming. Now, if I could only do something about that damned table…
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please call 1-877-49-EXPERT. Your questions will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the Expert podcast show.