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So-called mid-air collisions are rare, but extremely dangerous. They usually result in the crash of one of the planes involved.
Traffic Anti-Collision System: Advantages and Risks
In the 1950s, with an increase in the incidence of this type of accident – driven by the post-war commercial aviation boom – there was a need to create more efficient systems to control air traffic and avoid collisions in midair. Thus, TCAS, the Traffic Collision Avoidance System, was created. One of the main advantages of this system is that it works as a “right arm” for air traffic controllers.
TCAS works in a simple way: the transponder – a set of electronic equipment – captures, through radio waves, information from aircraft that are in a radius of about 65 km, interpreting their position, altitude, speed, and direction, calculating the programmed route and issuing warnings to pilots if a possible collision is detected.
First, audible warnings are sent warning of danger. If the risk remains, the system alerts the crews of both aircraft, issuing a signal with instructions for them to modify their routes in the best way. It is important to note that the system works by guiding one of the aircraft on a collision course to ascend and the other to descend, changing altitude, not direction.
For an aircraft’s TCAS to function fully, the other aircraft must be equipped with an operating transponder. The famous accident involving a commercial plane and an executive aircraft in the region of Mato Grosso, in 2006, was caused precisely because the transponder of one of the planes was turned off.
Technology and Human Performance
We can conclude that it is the technology – through TCAS – that prevents planes from maintaining risky routes. As the airspace is so vast, these occurrences are rare but dangerous.
Near airports, air traffic control guarantees the safety of passengers and crew. Through them, thorough work is carried out to identify possible problems and communicate them accurately, so that route corrections can be made.