[English] The Satellite Navigation Systems Expert Eliminates Pilot Error
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Nasz Dziennik No. 96(3722)
24-25 April 2010
In this article the satellite navigation systems expert talks to Piotr Czartoryski-Sziler, explaining in detail the principles of the TAWS navigation that was installed aboard the Presidential aircraft.
The name of the expert is know to the redactor of Nasz Dziennik but on request is kept confidential due to the expert’s line of work.
The redactor asked the expert about the workings of the modern navigation system TAWS, that was installed in the President’s plane. To this the newspaper’s guest answered “The altitude of the plane’s flight is continuously compared with a three-dimensional model of the Earth; when the plane looses altitude or when it is found low above ground level the so called, “Low Level Flight”, a three coloured map, warns of potential danger. The colours red, yellow and green show the pilot the scale of the emergency. At a glance it is possible to recognise danger, a so called, “Dead End”. Even before the threat becomes certain, it is possible to avoid it.
The redactor then went on to point out that since the introduction of the TAWS navigation system 20 years ago, no aircraft with it installed had crashed when landing. In an answer to this statement the expert went on to explain that this system as well as any other electronic equipment produced for the military or aviation forces are “virtually flawless”. He also mentioned that “numerous control procedures rule out such a scenario”
The reporter then asked about the possibility of an absence of the complete digital maps of the Smolensk airport in the database of the TAWS navigation system on the Presidential plane. To this the guest replied that the setting of military airports/airfields “even the minor ones” are accurately examined and noted since the “Cold War”, especially the ones in Russia. And the maps are American. He also added that “if the map would be inaccurate your Prime Minister Donald Tusk would have crashed three days earlier”.
The newspaper’s guest was also asked about any techniques which would make it possible to falsify data on the plane’s equipment. The expert talked to one such technique, “meaconing”, which depends on “taking over, by special equipment, the signal of the satellite with a 1575.420 MHz frequency and sending it with a delay of a few milliseconds with a greater strength than the original signal. If someone would want to carry out an intelligent sabotage they could manipulate only one weak satellite found horizontally. The computer on board the plane receives this signal, a false location and level of the plane” According to the expert a signal like this could even be sent from the ground.
After this the follow up question was on the size of the force which could interfere with the signal and the guest expert answered that it can be very small and that it could be left anywhere, the signal of this device can be compared to “energy radiated by the glow-worm beetle” and is undetectable. To this the guest reminding us added that the pilot does not have to find himself right above the disturbing device. He gave the example of the amateur electronics in New York who interfered with the landing of a plane in Boston.
The plane “does not have to find itself immediately above the source of interference, you don’t need electronic guns which would leave a trace in the characteristic form of damage to the plane’s electronics”. According to the expert the “meaconing” technique does not leave any trace. The newspaper’s guest recalled that in the European Union the “Navigation Warfare” strategy is in the course of realisation, which absorbs serious amounts of money and to this the guest added; “No one spends thousands of million euros as a result of a purely theoretical threat”.
The reporter then went on to ask if there is anything that can suggest the use of “meaconing” during what resulted as a tragedy in Smolensk. To this the expert replied that “the horizontal and vertical shifts against the correct flight of the plane, point to it. The plane flew above leafless trees and got knocked out of the air as a result of flying into the tree tops. What could have happened was that the meter measuring the level, measured the altitude to the forest floor and not the tree tops.” He stressed that it’s not know if the TAWS navigation in the area of the airport in Smolensk informs about the ground level including or excluding the height of the trees.
To the question on what instrument the pilot used, the expert thinks that if he used the GPS receiver, it was disturbed by “meaconing”. In the explanation of this GPS system we learn it’s accuracy, it is excellent and according to the specification of the GPS SPS is approximately 25m over 95% of the time.
According to the TSO-C129A standard the GPS measure is only used for horizontal runnings of an aircraft to the height above 500 feet (around 150m) above ground level. And this level is measured by barometric measurement. The expert’s opinion on what instrument the pilot used is only a speculation however he added that not knowing the exact level from the ground as well as the height of the trees could prove fatal.
It is also possible he said that the pilot believed that he was correctly positioned on the runway of the airport if we take into consideration earlier speculation about the possibility of signal interference and the level of the forest. If readings were to reflect plane’s real position pilot could ignore fact of the forest’s height since based on the readings plane would not have the possibility of collision.
To the reporter’s mention of Colonel Tomasz Pietrzak’s statement on the possibility of the TAWS navigation system being blocked in the Presidential plane, the guest answered that it is unimportant as the GPS’s level measure “still takes place with the help of other sources, which are usually duplicated, when one of them fails to work”.
The RW-5M radar system that is found on board the Presidential aircraft allows the measure of altitude with an accuracy of up to 5m. It is highly improbable that the pilot knowing the airport only basing on the speculation of the machine’s level on that device alone could find himself 1500m in front of the target at 0m from the ground level, according to the expert.
When asked if it’s possible to prove that devices on the Presidential plane were tampered with, the guest answered – No. He said that the electromagnetic tapes which are located in the black boxes can be unfortunately, copied, decoded and with the appropriate equipment any credible looking information could be entered and this no one will be able to check and prove. He said that the manipulation of the black boxes is impossible to detect especially when carried out by a professional.
At the end of the interview the reporter asked what the guest thought of the proposition of calling an International Technical Council by Prof. Jack Trznadel, Chairman of the Council of the Polish Katyn Foundation. This proposition was placed by the Prof. in his open letter to the Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, that the best world experts should be called to this council. The expert guest said he supports this proposal, because according to him this council would posses’ better investigation procedures and techniques. In his opinion there is certain information that “cannot be falsified” and that is important. However “objective systemizing of doubts on this matter, so that thousands of millions of people across the world could obtain their own opinion on the topic of this catastrophe” is important.