[wikilike_img src=http://static.flickr.com/34/64215523_e6de8f356f_d.jpg|width=400|align=thumb tleft|caption=Flight Aware real-time tracks of flights into Santa Monica Airpot|url=http://flightaware.com/live/airport/KSMO]
Flight Aware provides real-time tracking, but not just of flights or traffic to airports â€” actual unique, tail-number identifiable equipment. So, you can see where the plane you’ll be flying has been. It’s always sort of floored me the way airlines shuttle planes through their service loops. Los Angeles to Tokyo, clean the toilets and shove some more food on board, and fly it back. Don’t airplanes need to rest for a few days? Something?
Why do I blog this? The telemetric connection amongst objects in the sky is one of the more fascinating and satisfying aspects of air-traffic control systems. Having had the exhilirating experience of sitting in the right seat of a fully loaded Cirrus SR22 (a FlightAware-trackable vessel), an aircraft who’s avionics broadcasts its whereabouts, tells where everyone else nearby sky is, warns when another aircraft gets too close, indicates where it could get to if it had to glide in for a landing, when it falls beyond fuel range of an airport suitable to handle a landing, and which comes stock with a parachute(!) to float to a landing if everything really went south, I can say that aviation has near completely transitioned to a world of gizmos. Will aviation reach a tipping point where too many parts and too many obfuscated points of failure overload the balance of maintenance and human perception? Can we track more than just the vessel, but manage the history, aches, pains and concerns of smaller scale parts? Do parts need their own tracking and control visualizer before they tell their stories on retrieved flight data recorders? With air travel growth expected to double by 2017, the industry forecasts that such growth will lead to 50 major accidents per year unless someone does something, or probably a lot of things.