thoughts on pop culture

Blinded with the science of Fringe?

Thanks to Popular Mechanics for answering the biggest question I had after the Fringe premiere.

“All airliners have autopilots and almost all are capable of following a programmed path to the destination airport,” says Alison Duquette, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration. “But the plane will fly over the airport and then go on by, straight ahead, until it runs out of gas.” While many large airline jets can land themselves after the pilot selects the right frequencies and manually engages the wheels and wing flaps within 10 miles of the airport, no current commercial autopilot will go from the en route phase to the landing phase without some human input. 

Still, the flight technologies experts at the FAA aren’t ruling out that possibility altogether. Completely automatic flights and landings are performed by the military all the time with their UAVs, Duquette notes. For a commercial airliner, however, extensive software updates and changes in the landing gear would be necessary to make a pilot obsolete—something that’s not in the interest of public safety. 

You can read the full article here.


September 12, 2008 - Posted by | Premiere, Science, Scifi, Technology, Television | , , , ,

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