Surf's Up @ FAA
If you are like me, you only visit www.FAA.gov when you need to get immediate help with some sort of issue buried deep within the FARs. So I thought it would be a fun exercise to go there and just “dink around”, and see what I could find of interest.
What I found astounds me. There is far more information available to the public then I realized. Here are just a few that stood out:
US Airspace status: A nice and clean US map with clickable icons of all major airports showing real-time status of the National Airspace System.
Comair 5191 Accident Air Traffic Control (ATC) Tapes: You can listen to the actual ATC tapes from the 08-27-06 crash at Lexington, KY. Two notes: (1) I didn't confirm this, but the site says that the conversation begins 6 minutes, 30 seconds into tape; (2) Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is the same as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Local time at Lexington, KY on August 27, 2006 was UTC minus 4 hours. For example, 0944 UTC is 5:44 am in Lexington.
What to do with really large aircraft: Technical Reports on big ships like the A380 can be found here, such as “Impact of New Large Aircraft on Airport Design” and “Unresolved Issues Make it Difficult to Determine the Cost to Serve New Large Aircraft” from the U.S. General Accounting Office. There is also a whole section on wake turbulence that will be an issue once these really, really heavy planes enter service. I liked the “Airport Plans” section, describing what airports like San Francisco, Atlanta, JFK, Los Angeles, Orlando and Memphis are doing regarding the A-380. (note...Memphis? I thought FedEx was going Boeing. Might be worth a look for a future post - dp)
Commercial Space Travel: If you think the FAA is not thinking about the day when Average Joe can blast himself into space via any number of commercial space carriers, you'd be wrong. There is an endless amount of data and information on this coming wave of private space travel, all of it very interesting.