Odds and Ends: FAA’s NextGen, B-52 at 50

FAA’s NextGen: This short piece analyzes the benefits of the FAA’s NextGen air traffic management system. A 36-page report is available here.A Washington (DC) think tank called Eno has a lot of stuff about NextGen, including a recent synopsis of a debate about the program and a You Tube link within the synopsis of the debate.

This is a much more balanced view of the benefits and shortfalls in FAA policy than one consultant who revels in criticism but offers no solutions. We recommend the constructive approach.

Alaska Airlines has implemented a piece of NextGen. Here is a New York Times article describing the effort.

B-52 turns 50: And that’s just the youngest one. DOD Buzz has this story about America’s venerable bomber.

24 Comments on “Odds and Ends: FAA’s NextGen, B-52 at 50

  1. As one who was part of the team at IBM that upgraded the Bom-Nav System from analog to digital and later worked for Big B to upgrade and add a lot of the current systems on this fine old bird, I am proud of the B-52 and its contribution to world peace! I hope some of the current H models like 1040 find a nice place to retire some day.

  2. As a plane crazed infant during the fifties in the UK I recall with my chums clinging to & peeking through airfield chain link fencing mesmerised by the various types of heavy metal as they screamed & taxied around the RAF & USAF aerodromes that we used to bicycle too.

    The beasts seem to be constantly in the air day & night, much time was spent sitting or laying in the long grass on a hot summers day at the end of the runway with our lemonade & sandwiches noting down aircraft identities on takeoff, this was our cold war alternative to gathering steam train numbers that most of our mates preferred. Pilots were our anonymous gung ho heroins that we aspired towards, whereas steam train drivers lived in our street rode to work on bicycles & where not in the least glamorous…….

    A frequent participant at UK air shows the venerable B52 airframe never fails to impress. I recall one such event (the venue escapes me) when during the always impressive long lumbering takeoff the airshow commentator aptly described this event over the Tannoy as:

    “It’s not so much a takeoff, more akin to following the contours of the earth”

  3. 1040’s real name is 62-1040. The oldest B-52H that is still flying is a 1961 model. Still 50 years is impressive for a front line combat airplane. But the oldest front line combat airplane still actively flying in the USAF is 55 years old, they are the 1957 KC-135 models.

    The USAF actually flies 3 different airplanes that are 50 years old or older, the KC-135, B-52, and C-130.

  4. Scott, if you think that these comments are inappropriate or not dealing with the
    subject directly, I will understand if you decide NOT to publish them!

    The US needed and still needs to defend itself and the B-52 was one of the tools
    to do it with DURING the COLD WAR, but isn’t it thru that the airplane was meant
    to destroy the Soviet Union, BEFORE they could do it to us?
    Thanks to “the other side” coming out with a similar vehicle and the weapons to
    carry them, we never had to use it for the above purpose and, consequently, we
    had 50 years of piece, and saved millions of lives in the process!

    So what happened? We had to get some more milage out of the old crate and we
    decided to use it for totally different purposes, i.e. the massive “carpet” bombing
    and killing of millions of innocent civilians in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and who
    knows how many other places, in order to eliminate some or maybe many un-
    identified so-called “terrorists,” creating many more people who hate us, like in
    Vietnam, with the daily increasing likelihood, that all those lives and monies will
    again go to waist, when we will be forced to pul out in shame, as we had to do in
    Vietnam and Iraq, with nothing but hatred towards us, to show for!

    • Hello Rudy,

      I posted my comment below before I read your post. I can see that we are in total agreement on this issue.

      I will just add that by trying to eliminate its enemies, real or imagined, the USA (or any other country or group for that matter) only creates more enemies and hatred. It’s a vicious circle.
      The world does not need bullies (including terrorists) that go around and impose their vision and culture by an illegitimate use of force (The Inquisition, WW1, WW2, Vietnam, Middle East, 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc…).

      The above is a humanistic statement, not a political one. It applies to all countries, groups and organizations.

      • I can see this is quickly turning into a political as well as the justification of military tactics issue. I don’t think Scott brought up the age of the B-52H for this kind of discussion.

        But I will say this, that the B-52, and other military aircraft of the United States have kept the peace by instilling fear into most of those who would want to disrupt the peace. For most of the entire career of the B-52, all models, that has worked and worked well, sincew it forst flew in 1952. That is the true legacy of the B-52, peace through deterrent.

        • “That is the true legacy of the B-52, peace through deterrent.”

          The US hasn’t been at peace for quite some time now.

          The B52 in contrast to their SU counterparts has been in significant
          use in low scale conflict without resolving them sucessfully.

          Thus I see this more as arrested developement than anything else ;-)

          • No sir, as usual you anti American statements cloud your clear thoughts. The B-52 has been very sucessful in preventing a nuclear war. That is what it was originally built for. The fact it had to be used in both the conventional and unconventional roles is more of a testoment to those cultures who want to dominate a region or even the world. Like it or not, but you have benefitted from living under the umbrella the B-52 has provided. The B-52 was not used in the European War in the mid to late 1990s. That war was purely a European ‘problem’ that Europe could not handle and dragged the US into it. It was used in the 1991 Gulf War to evict Saddam Hussain out of Kuwait, and it is used in the GWOT, which was started by the unprovoked attacks of 9/11. During the Vietnam War, it was one of the most feared weapons used against North Vietnam, and against the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. You are correct in saying the B-52 has not been able to settle anything when used in war. That is not the fault of the B-52, its crews, or any other US Military Force and weapons. That is the fault of gutless politicians, on both sides of the Atlantic, who will not allow the military to do what they are trained to do, fight and win wars. Instead we go in, do some ‘policing actions’ and are pulled out so the politicians can get reelected.

  5. Jerry :
    I am proud of the B-52 and its contribution to world peace!

    That is if you consider carpet bombing of Vietnam as a contribution to world peace!

    • Hi Norm
      You have just reminded me of the song ‘GIVE PEACE A CHANCE’ i thank all the folks who flew & lost there lives in the aircraft and gave us the freedom we have today in june i will be in France and i will be passing a town called Sant’a’ Void where there is the largest world war 2 cemetery of U.S service personel who fell fighting for our freedom today let’s hope & pray it does not happen again.

    • Hello Norm,

      I understand your comment as a weapon platform it had no equal, but as a deterrent to World War is also had no equal. Thanks to General LeMay and the multitude of dedicated Air Force personnel of the Strategic Air Command, this county had a ready answer to anyone who would think about aggression. The Cold War stayed cold because of its readiness and waiting at a moment’s notice to strike.

  6. kct a great aircraft indeed. Peace is politics. Bombing the hell out of the bad guys without asking questions, often leads to insights 20 yrs later the bad guys weren’t so bad afterall and we weren’t as noble as we hoped. It takes a few cycles to recognize the patterns and see through the propaganda. Internet shortens the cycles.

    • I just knew I’d get sucked into this….

      The B-52 did its primary job sucessfully, that is as a nuclear bomber deterrent. It has not had to drop a nuke in anger. But like the Boeing built B-17 and B-29, the B-52, North American B-1, and NG B-2, has had to go to war. Only the B-50 and B-47 bombers built by Boeing, as well as the Convair B-36, B-58, and GD FB-111 have not had to do that in the strategic bomber role.

      Conventional and unconventional warfare are totally different. As the world’s history has shown us, just about every generation has someone who pops up wanting to be the big guy of the world. These types of wars will always be fought until the entire world decides humanity has to live together. But that is a pipe dream. Someone will always want to be ‘king of the hill’. There is no continent on Earth, that has more than one country, that has not had a major military conflict.

      IT is this reason why weapons must be constantly update and/or replaced. Unfortunately our world will not change, no matter how much some of us want it too.

  7. KC135TopBoom :
    These types of wars will always be fought until the entire world decides humanity has to live together.

    Well said KC!

    The B-52 was, and still is, a great aircraft. I like things that last. The KC-135 owes a lot to the B-52 (and to the B-47). And the research put into these large military jet aircraft eventually led to the 707. And the rest is history.

    To celebrate the B-52’s sixtieth anniversary, we should give ourselves a treat by drinking a B-52. The following is the recipe:

    Pour one layer of Kahlua in a shot glass. Slowly add another layer of Grand Marnier on top of it. Then add a third layer of Bailey. If you proceed carefully the three liquors should remain separated. If you swallow this drink in one shot you will know why they call it a B-52! :)

    • may i have 2 B52’S please bartender??? i bet they will kick like a micky the mule.

  8. On 7/4/12 another 737 lost cabin pressure belonging to Ryan Air out of Milan and a mayday called.

    • Yeah, I heard that too. I wonder if O’Leary is skimping on maintenance?

      • For sure For sure he trys and keeps his aircraft in the air 24/7 i have been on a few flights with the airline by the time you are on the bus leaving the airport the aircraft is loaded and gone.

  9. I was going to leave this subject, with my comments above.
    However, in spite of several supporting comments to mine, which were much
    appreciated, the majority of comments were clearly in line with those from
    Jerry, saying: I am proud of the B-52 and its contribution to world peace!
    That’s our democracy for you and I respect that opinion!

    However, for those of you with similar feelings, I would like to suggest to put
    yourselves in the (near) future, when some other big power like China or
    Canada, would establish 900+ military bases around the world, which would
    not only provide them with controlling military influence, but a massive amount
    of economic and political influence as well!
    Just add up the number vicious Dictators we had and still have, like Saudia
    around the world, exploiting the masses, to keep our fuel costs down, instead
    of developing our own alternative fuels, as many suggested decades ago!

    If you do that seriously, you will understand how resentful many people in
    those countries feel towards the US policies, not the people, as I experienced
    personally, while representing Boeing in five different continents, as Director
    of Aircraft Sales and $12,+ Billion worth of Boeing aircraft sales to show for,
    in those days $s”

  10. I was going to leave this subject, with my comments above.
    However, as much as I appreciated the supporting comments from several
    of you, it is clear that we are in the great minority!
    That’s democracy for us in this great country, but for those who, like Jerry,
    still say: “I am proud of the B-52 and its contribution to world peace,” which
    I respect, I would like to leave the following thought:
    How would any of you feel, if some future great power, like China (not yet),
    but another great power like S. Africa, Australia or Canada, would have 900+
    military bases around the world, completely dominating not only the military
    scene,

    • Hello Rudy,
      I would asked that you consider this, where do you think the World would be today if America had not been there, all around the World? I admit that some administrations and US Military leaders made some questionable decisions now and in the past, however they are not perfect as we all are not. Until the World grows up and learns to live with all people in Peace, we will have Military Leaders and Civilian Leaders who make bad decisions.

  11. I think the role the US played during the last 100 yrs is cultivated mainly for the home public. Of course it was / is right. Same happens in every part of the world. I’m all for all members of congress getting a passport, free days and task to talk to people abroad, away from camera’s before taking standpoints on foreign policies and building on a realistic self and world view.

    • keesje, how are you planning on getting US Congresscritters and Senators away from the cameras? They already get to many ‘free days’, the US Congress only works for about 105 days per years, and some thing that is to many.

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