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The Collision Between PR-GTD And N600XL

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Before we come to discuss the human follies that are responsible for the midair collision between the Boeing 737 and the Embraer Legacy and for the loss of one hundred and fifty-four lives, let us explore into the technical factors that led to the situation where the two planes collided with each other in the air over the Amazon jungle. Much blame has been put on the ATC or the Air Traffic Control services. It is not exactly without definite reasons. It was possible only for the ATC systems that both the planes were on the same altitude.

Again, it would be a wrong idea if it is thought that the since the ATC system is controlled or operated by human beings, it is the aviation professionals that are to be blamed. There are a huge number of technical aspects that are related to the operations of ATC systems. One of the very first events that led to the midair collision between the planes was the Air Traffic Control computers’ automatic insertion of the ‘ cleared altitude’ field which was displayed in the data block.

It might lead to the thought that the air traffic controllers should have taken care to react correctly when the dire situation arrived. To understand this problem, it is necessary to have some idea about the functionality of the ‘ cleared altitude value’ and the ‘ requested altitude value’ . The ‘ cleared altitude value’ serves the purpose of reflecting the status of the clearance of the aircraft while the ‘ requested altitude value’ serves as a reminder to the controller. The basic problem was that a design in which two pieces of information appear to be identical in spite of their being distinctively different from each other, the error displayed is too latent.

There remains almost no distinction between the ‘ cleared altitude value’ and the ‘ requested altitude value’ . Another technical factor that remained responsible for the midair collision was the loss of functionality of the collision avoidance system of the aircraft.  

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