Event Location
2205 EB


Mr. Raymond LaFrey
Tau Beta Pi Central Texas Chapter
Friday, November 3, 2017
1:50 p.m. – 2:40 p.m.
2205 EB

“Air Traffic Control and Flight Safety Developments at MIT Lincoln Laboratory”

Commercial aviation is very safe, accidents rare. But it has not always been that way......
During 1975-1984  there were seven fatal airline accidents during landings and departures with disagreement on the cause.  Then, a 1985  L1011 DFW crash confirmed a disputed theory that led to an effective warning system.  
During 1928 - 1978 there were 21 fatal mid-air collisions involving airline aircraft in U.S. airspace.  In spite of wide spread radar coverage, they continued until a San Diego mid-air stimulated new R&D and an effective warning system emerged.
This presentation is about the Air Traffic Control Mission Area at MIT Lincoln Laboratory and its roles in developing new sensors and systems.  After briefly covering the Laboratory's cold war air defense origins and initial FAA radar work, three major aviation advances will be described: the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar to avoid wind shear accidents, TCAS to avoid mid-air collisions,  and ADS-B, a new surveillance method for all weather flight operations without radar. 
Ray grew up near Detroit and received BSEE and MSEE degrees from Michigan State University.  He served six years in the United States Army as a Signal Corps Officer, responsible for the operational deployment of satellite communications earth stations to Viet Nam, Europe and Africa.  
Joining MIT in 1969, he had a variety of engineering assignments as a member of the Technical Staff, Group Leader, Associate Division Head, and member of the Laboratory Steering Committee. During his last ten years he was responsible for the Lincoln Laboratory Air Traffic Control Mission Area, encompassing FAA, NASA, and DOD sponsored research in radar, navigation, communications, and aviation weather systems.  He retired in 2003 and lives near San Antonio, Texas.

Faculty Host:  Dr. John Papapolymerou (

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