American Airlines Considers Using Satellite Systems

Article excerpt

Oklahoma has contemplated using satellites in a manner similar to an Oklahoma State University program developed to help rural high school students meet college entry requirements.

But, for now, American Airlines' Tulsa maintenance headquarters is sticking with another kind of educational tool: video taping, said G.R. Ferguson, the airline's managing director of base maintenance in Tulsa.

"We haven't really gotten into (satellite transmission of visual images) fully yet," Ferguson said. "It's not as routine today to use satellite communication to send pictures, but we are toying with that technology."

With satellite systems, a maintenance team in Tulsa can look at pictures of airplane engines as they are being filmed, Ferguson said. Whether problems are significant or insignificant, Ferguson said he needed information about the engine quickly to decide whether to substitute another airplane or to switch out an engine. An hour, the time it might take to fly a videotape to the maintenance headquarters, can make a difference to American Airlines, he said.

"I see satellites as an extension of rapid communication, but it will not replace the video tape," Ferguson said. …