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Transportation The Military

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

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

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  • Well, no shit. Who else is going to be flying a U-2? U2?

    Still a badass plane, although I sure wouldn't want to have to be the pilot.

  • u2 (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2014 @08:40AM (#46912319)

    I thought they toured in buses? Anyway, what was Bono bitching about now?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2014 @10:08AM (#46912645)

    Fucking Bono is more damn trouble than he is worth. The attention whore, is there nothing he wont do to keep the band newsworthy?

  • by TheRealHocusLocus ( 2319802 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @10:53AM (#46912803)

    Air traffic controllers at LA center were forced to turn off clipping on Wednesday (cheat code 'idclip' []) when a high-flying U2 spy plane crossed the control area, sending inclined vertices soaring to 60,000 feet. "This really screwed up the level map," one unnamed controller said, "here we had commercial pilots navigating the prescribed holding tunnels, galloping up and down stairs, jumping to activate the rising platform that takes them into th final approach ramp. So you're a pilot and you have your chainsaw at the ready and all of a sudden you're up against this 60,000 foot wall. We didn't even know what it was then. And it's moving! Even with a thousand cacodemons under your belt, you're not ready for this."

    "The 'fake 3D Doom 2 engine []' has served American aviation well over the years. It runs on the piston and vacuum tube difference engines still used by the FAA. There are limitations but the math is fast. It's why modern airports tend to sprawl over large areas, though we've had to install higher fences with opaque textures around the runways to hide ground objects on adjacent runways and nearby buildings. When you're ready to touch down the lag can be incredible."

    The decision to turn off clipping was necessary but it came with a price. Few pilots had ever experienced no-clip mode, and while a few admitted to a sudden sense of exhilaration as they were liberated from the cruel physics of aviation -- most were anxious, even terrified. When asked why, one reacted with astonishment, almost anger. "Well shit, we're pilots. Avoiding things is just what we do. It's a trained response to avoid things. And it did not help at all when a few assholes broke formation and started to buzz through other airplanes. Every one of us was thinking, they're going to turn clipping on sooner or later, I hope it happens after this jerk gets off my ass."

    Others who requested not to be identified had other stories. "We began in formation then matched vector, then merged completely. I mean really merged. The passengers were really startled those from other planes floated into view and entered the cabin. Then someone started laughing, probably in sheer terror, but soon everyone was laughing and it was great fun. Isn't it funny how when something scary doesn't kill you immediately, you want to laugh? Isn't it?" After a moment he laughed suddenly.

    Collision alarms were not designed for no-clip and many were sounding constantly and could be heard clearly as pilots spoke over the radio channel. To make matters worse, the effect of no-clip was not confined to aircraft or the facilities. One pilot on approach noted "I almost swerved instinctively to avoid a fire truck sailing past, it must have floated off a ramp in the upper garage but there it was right in the approach path. Then this guy -- a businessman clutching a briefcase -- appeared and stopped in midair. He was flapping around like a butterfly, obviously pleased with himself for sailing through the glass of the upper lounge and out into the field. Then he turned slowly and there was this 200 ton aircraft bearing down on him. Like a stupid squirrel he fled directly down the flight path, glancing back. The look on his face as he passed through the cockpit was priceless."

    Landing was extremely difficult during this period. "Impossible, actually. In no-clip you're not really landing on anything, just trying to stop descending when you THINK you're on the ground. Fortunately there was no stall physics in play so we took it slow and I had the co-pilot hanging out the window trying to gauge the moment the wheels reached the ground. The plane in front of me was obviously waiting for touchdown, he just sunk into the tarmac and disappeared. I hear he drifted around under the airport for awhile and finally rose into a parking lot. They had to knock down fences to get it towed back to the field."

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