Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Transportation The Military

U-2 Caused Widespread Shutdown of US Flights Out of LAX 128

Posted by timothy
from the that-bono-is-such-a-ham dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Reuters reports that last week's computer glitch at a California air traffic control center that led officials to halt takeoffs at Los Angeles International Airport was caused by a U-2 spy plane still in use by the US military, passing through air space monitored by the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center that appears to have overloaded ERAM, a computer system at the center. According to NBC News, computers at the center began operations to prevent the U-2 from colliding with other aircraft, even though the U-2 was flying at an altitude of 60,000 feet and other airplanes passing through the region's air space were miles below. FAA technical specialists resolved the specific issue that triggered the problem on Wednesday, and the FAA has put in place mitigation measures as engineers complete development of software changes," said the agency in a statement. "The FAA will fully analyze the event to resolve any underlying issues that contributed to the incident and prevent a reoccurrence." The U.S. Air Force is still flying U-2s, but plans to retire them within the next few years. The U-2 was slated for retirement in 2006 in favor of the unmanned Global Hawk Block 30 system, before the Air Force pulled an about-face two years ago and declared the Global Hawk too expensive and insufficient for the needs of combatant commanders."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

U-2 Caused Widespread Shutdown of US Flights Out of LAX

Comments Filter:
  • by ericloewe (2129490) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @09:15AM (#46912447)

    Yeah, you got it wrong.

    7000ft is FL070

    FL100, 10 000ft is stupidly low. So low it requires no pressurization.

    The joke goes something like:

    Small prop plane wants to boast, requests tower confirm its altitude, which is given as something like FL070.
    Hearing this, a smartass fighter pilot (some versions add a more subdued jet pilot between these two) asks for his flight level, which is given as something like FL400.
    Finally, a third (fourth) pilot asks for clearance to FL600. Controller laughs and says "You're cleared for Flight Level Six-Zero-Zero, if you can reach it. Pilot replies with "Roger, now descending from Flight Level Eight-Zero-Zero."

  • In the past the U-2 was flown by the CIA, the Taiwanese and the British Royal Air Force, and as another posted notes its still flown by NASA, so the comment is actually valid.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2014 @09:24AM (#46912495)

    Also in th US, the lowest used flight level is 180, i.e. 18,000 feet. Flight levels and altitudes also differ in that flight levels are expressed in terms of pressure altitudes (i.e. the altimeter is set at 29.92") where as altitude assignments below FL 180 use local altimeter settings. These rules are different in other countries.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @09:26AM (#46912501) Journal

    I'd heard it was a ground speed check:

    I heard a Cessna ask for a readout of its ground speed. "90 knots" Center replied. Moments later a Twin Beech inquired the same. "120 knots," Center answered.

    We weren't the only ones proud of our ground speed that day...almost instantly an F-18 smugly transmitted, "Uh, Center, Dusty 52 requests ground speed readout."

    There was a slight pause then the response, "525 knots on the ground, Dusty." Another silent pause. As I was thinking to myself how ripe a situation this was, I heard a familiar click of a radio transmission coming from my back-seater. It was at that precise moment I realized Walt and I had become a real crew for we were both thinking in unison.

    "Center, Aspen 20, you got a ground speed readout for us?" There was a longer than normal pause... "Aspen, I show 1,742 knots." No further inquiries were heard on that frequency.

  • by Ceiynt (993620) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @10:45AM (#46912771)
    It was a NASA owned U-2. They do atmospheric testing. They basically fly a pattern in the sky over and over. The problem with the flight plan was that the U-2 was assigned VFR-on-Top. What that mean is the plane was flying using VFR(Visual) flight rules on top of clouds. This normally occurs below 18000 feet. As such, I think the VFR-on-Top system was only designed for below 18000 feet. As the U-2 was above 60000 feet, the system was processing it for conflicts at every altitude, causing a buffer overflow. They are working on a patch to fix that problem, and in the meantime have implemented a workaround for us. That's what our memo told us at work. Source: I'm an air traffic controller at Denver En-route ARTCC.
  • Helo dude (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2014 @10:55AM (#46912811)

    Flight level 600 and above is Class E and is still controlled airspace, despite no requirement to get FAA clearance to operate there.

    Class G is uncontrolled airspace.

  • by Whiternoise (1408981) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @11:14AM (#46912895)
    This was a quote from Brian Shul, author of Sled Driver. http://gizmodo.com/5511236/the... [gizmodo.com]
  • by Whiternoise (1408981) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @11:24AM (#46912935)
    The 'true' version can be found in Sled Driver which is phenomenally hard to get hold of in dead tree form:

    Our training flights took us over much of the western half of the United States. A typical sortie out of Beale included a rendezvous with a tanker over Nevada, accelerating to Mach 3 across Wyoming and leveling above 75,000 feet over Montana. We'd turn right approaching South Dakota, roll out in Colorado, and zip south to New Mexico. There we'd begin another right turn that would carry us through Arizona and straight to southern California, then out over the ocean and finally up to the Seattle area where we'd prepare to descend back to Marysville, California. This was a nice tour in two and a half hours.

    To more fully understand the concept of Mach 3, imagine the speed of a bullet coming from a high powered hunting rifle. It is travelling at 3100 feet per second as it leaves the muzzle. The Sled would cruise easily at 3200 feet per second, with power to spare. There was a lot we couldn't do in the airplane, but we were the fastest guys on the block and frequently mentioned this fact to fellow aviators. I'll always remember a certain radio exchange that occurred one day as Walt and I were screaming across southern California 13 miles high. We were monitoring various radio transmissions from other aircraft as we entered Los Angeles Center's airspace. Though they didn't really control us, they did monitor our movement across their scope. I heard a Cessna ask for a readout of its groundspeed. "90 knots," Center replied. Moments later a Twin Beech required the same. "120 knots," Center answered. We weren't the only one proud of our speed that day as almost instantly an F-18 smugly transmitted, "Ah, Center, Dusty 52 requests groundspeed readout." There was a slight pause. "525 knots on the ground, Dusty." Another silent pause. As I was thinking to myself how ripe a situation this was, I heard the familiar click of a radio transmission coming from my back-seater. It was at that precise moment I realized Walt and I had become a real crew, for we were both thinking in unison. "Center, Aspen 20, you got a ground speed readout for us?" There was a longer than normal pause. "Aspen, I show one thousand seven hundred and forty-two knots." No further inquiries were heard on that frequency.

    Found at the beginning of the chapter "Deep Blue". Walt refers to Maj Walter Watson [scafricanamerican.com]. There seems to be a variety of versions floating around, presumably Shul changes the speed each time he tells the story.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2014 @04:03PM (#46914741)

    Its not *that* fast, but flies very very high. The ugly with flying a U-2 is that there is a 32 mile per hour window between Vs and Vne (Vs is stall speed, Vne is Velocity never exceed: the point at which the wings are ripped off). So you have to go faster than the one, or the plane is falling out of the air, and go slower than the other, or the plane suffers irreparable damage (and still falling out of the air). If someone shoots a missile at you, there is no 'accelerate and get away', you can go a wee bit faster or slower and try some maneuvers, but that's it.

We are experiencing system trouble -- do not adjust your terminal.

Working...