Features

January 2011 Issue

Notam System Overhaul

Long-overdue changes are being made to the FAA’s Notam system. But will the new system benefit users or just reduce the agency’s overhead?

Believe it or not, there once was a time when technologies like Nexrad radar, cellphones and e-mail didn’t exist. During those dark ages, electronic communication was limited to wire transmissions called "telegrams" and the occasional amateur radio operator. Not only was the bandwidth limited, but so were the graphic capabilities. As the need for real-time communication without direct human intervention developed, one solution essentially involved two electric typewriters (remember those?) connected by a telephone line and printing on rolls of cheap yellow paper. The result was known as a teletype machine and, to minimize manufacturing costs and bandwidth requirements, all upper-case alphabetic characters were used. The results worked—despite the noise of several teletype machines clattering away.

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