Local News

Florida Company Working On Ways To Monitor Flights From Ground

Posted November 12, 2001 1:14 a.m. EST

— After the events of Sept. 11, some travelers have a new fear of flying. Would you feel better if you knew someone on the ground could help if something happened? Skyway Aircraft of Florida is working on a system to watch from the ground what is going on in planes.

Glenn Kovar and his son, Brent, both of Skyway Aircraft, have been testing the new system on two executive jets.

"We have nine cameras on the plane. Some of them are hidden, some are in the baggage compartment and that is then sent back to the ground," Brent Kovar said.

The system uses high-speed, fixed wireless technology. Streaming video and audio come from the plane to receiver towers.

"They go on a rooftop near the airport and they create a cell structure like a cell phone and it has complete coverage across the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico," Brent Kovar said.

The Kovars are shopping the technology in Washington, hoping the Federal Aviation Administration will accept it. Boeing equips its big jetliners with a system that allows them to land and take off without help from the flight crew, but that system does not rely on someone on the ground controlling the plane.

"It's going to bring aviation back to where people will feel safe and will be safe flying," Glenn Kovar said.

Skyway Aircraft said outfitting a plane would cost between $50,000 to $100,000. There would also be a charge for monitoring flights. The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a number of new safety ideas, but few have been ordered into use.