By Sarah Day
January 26, 2011
Aviation technology in Juneau will be featured in a PBS segment on transportation networks.
Lion Television, which is producing the four-part series, “America Revealed” for PBS, was filming with Wings of Alaska and Alaska Airlines and talking with the Juneau International Airport last week.
PBS says the four-part segment will take a look at the people and networks behind four areas: food, energy, transportation and industry.
Juneau’s aviators play a role in the transportation segment. The series is tentatively scheduled to run in this fall.
It focuses on the use of next-generation technology and how Alaska has been leading improvements the Federal Aviation Administration is implementing.
“We filmed with both Alaska Airlines and Wings of Alaska,” said Lion Television associate producer Jeffrey Irvine. “We will show how this technology is especially useful in Juneau. It allows Wings of Alaska to land in places like Hoonah when weather is not that great. One of the pieces of the ‘Next Gen’ initiative is RNP – Required Navigation Performance. That’s what we were focusing on with Alaska Airlines. They were the first airlines to use that technology.”
“The gist of this is to show how far aviation has come in the navigational realm,” said Juneau Airport Manager Jeannie Johnson at a recent meeting.
Irvine said they decided to film in Juneau because of Alaska Airline’s efforts, and to show that it’s not just big airliners using this GPS technology.
“We flew on a flight with Wings out to Hoonah and met some people who live out there who count on these flights to get to and from Juneau,” he said.
The transportation segment also will feature things like traffic management in Las Vegas, commuting in a car in Los Angeles, shipping by freight train and other networks.
It will also delve a little into the history of American transportation.
“We did a part out in Montana where they still use airway beacons made in the 1930s,” Irvine said. “They’re almost like lighthouses for planes. They were used by airmail pilots in the 30s before the advent of radar. … Radar degrades over distance. They still utilize them there with the local pilots.”
The aviation portion also looks at air traffic control in Washington, D.C., and how they handle capacity and possible weather delays.
“It’s kind of surprising seeing the networks that aren’t readily apparent,” said Sloan Carroll, PBS associate director of content marketing strategy.