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Is Aviation Keeping The Dot Matrix Printer Alive?  
User currently offlinecha747 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 785 posts, RR: 6
Posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 12075 times:

OK...totally random thought. I step onto a modern marvel of an airplane that was designed by advanced CAD programming, whose seats have more computing power in the IFE than the Apollo astronauts had to land on the moon, and I've used my smart phone to actually board the plane. So why are the reports brought to the cockpit from the gate agent printed on a dot matrix printer? Would it be that hard to convert over? Is the continuous tractor feed an absolute necessity? I just looked at the prices of a few dot matrix printers and they are actually pricier than entry-level laser printers. What gives? Why are we still using 1970's/1980's technology in 2013 at the gate?


You land a million planes safely, then you have one little mid-air and you never hear the end of it - Pushing Tin
50 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineOB1504 From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 3327 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 12045 times:

I actually never stopped to consider that until now, despite constantly fighting with a dot-matrix printer every day at work.

User currently offlineBreninTW From Taiwan, joined Jul 2006, 1629 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 12053 times:

The big advantage of a dot-matrix printer over laser printers is that it can (relatively) quickly and cheaply print duplicates. Dot-matrix printers are still pretty common in any application where a duplicate is required. They are the modern equivalent of writing with a sheet of carbon paper between two blank sheets of paper.

Another advantage of the tractor feed is the sheer amount of paper it can feed ... most laser printers are limited to a ream in the tray (500 sheets) -- while that may sound like a lot, a box of tractor-feed paper can easily have many times that many sheets. This reduces the risk of a flight taking a delay while hunting down paper to refill a printer tray.



I'm tired of the A vs. B sniping. Neither make planes that shed wings randomly!
User currently onlineProst From United States of America, joined Oct 2012, 987 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 12049 times:

And they're oh so wonderful when the ribbon is out of ink.

User currently offlinebrilondon From Canada, joined Aug 2005, 4204 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12005 times:

Quoting Prost (Reply 3):
And they're oh so wonderful when the ribbon is out of ink.

And I loved to change the ribbon...



Rush for ever; Yankees all the way!!
User currently onlineProst From United States of America, joined Oct 2012, 987 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 11998 times:

That may explain why the ribbon is always low!

User currently offlinePITingres From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 1133 posts, RR: 13
Reply 6, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 11936 times:

Quoting cha747 (Thread starter):
Why are we still using 1970's/1980's technology in 2013 at the gate?

Because it works?  

Re the thread title, aviation certainly isn't the only user of dot matrix printing. Consider car rentals, for instance; many (not all) are still using dot matrix, because they work with multi-part forms.



Fly, you fools! Fly!
User currently offlinecha747 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 785 posts, RR: 6
Reply 7, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 11821 times:

Quoting PITingres (Reply 6):
Because it works?

Fair enough...but so did hand-written bag tags, hand-written boarding passes, paper tickets, and.... well, you get my point. Everything else has changed, why not this?



You land a million planes safely, then you have one little mid-air and you never hear the end of it - Pushing Tin
User currently offlinetype-rated From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 4977 posts, RR: 19
Reply 8, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 11808 times:

A lot of retailers use dot matrix printers to print sales receipts, warehouse pick slips and such. The Okidata 320 dot matrix printer used to be ubiquitous because it was a very reliable printer and it can print forms 6 copies deep.

And retailers also use them to print reports that will have copies sent to different departments too.

What brand dot matrix printers do you normally see at airports?



Fly North Central Airlines..The route of the Northliners!
User currently offlineb757capt From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 1374 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 11786 times:

Quoting OB1504 (Reply 1):

Long live the okie data!



The views written by this user are in no manner the views of my employer and should not be thought as such.
User currently offlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20513 posts, RR: 62
Reply 10, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 11772 times:

Quoting cha747 (Thread starter):
What gives? Why are we still using 1970's/1980's technology in 2013 at the gate?

I always thought it had to do with modern-day printers not having a parallel port interface for legacy mainframes which the airlines operate on. It would cost a lot of time and effort to recode for a different kind of print interface, is what I was told. As dot matrix is still a rather cheap and mature technology, there isn't any great rush to replace them.

Lengthy printouts done at the gate now will probably be transmitted by tablet in the near future anyway, making the investment in a different type of printing apparatus irrelevant.



International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 19516 posts, RR: 58
Reply 11, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 11705 times:

The medical industry uses its fair share of dot matrix printers. For example, our carbon duplicate lab slips have each physician's name and a checkbox next to it so that we can simply check the box next our name and the lab knows where to send the results. Our names are printed using a DM.

When the ability to print a carbon copy is more important than font quality, DM makes sense.


User currently offline9252fly From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1391 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 11659 times:

They commonly have addresses information can be sent to remotely,sometimes from on the other side of the world. The idea is to get the attention of those monitoring/using the printer,especially considering the amount of noise they produce when printing. Examples would be flight plans and status updates,fuel loads,passenger handling information,baggage tracing and forwards,the list goes on and on.

User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 13, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 11444 times:

Quoting cha747 (Thread starter):
more computing power in the IFE than the Apollo astronauts had to land on the moon

Your smart phone has 10X or more computing power than the Apollo astronauts had on their ship. I don't think the Hubble has been upgraded to better than a 486 processor yet.

Quoting cha747 (Thread starter):
I just looked at the prices of a few dot matrix printers and they are actually pricier than entry-level laser printers.

But those entry level lasers will not handle the printing load at a gate. You need something running in the $900-1,200 dollar range for a laser printer - for every gate.

Quoting brilondon (Reply 4):
And I loved to change the ribbon...

But at least the copies are legible. When you run a departure list, printing seven copies - and find the toner cartridge is out. Not only will you have to change the cartridge, but the flight will have to hold to wait on their copies.

Quoting cha747 (Reply 7):
Everything else has changed, why not this?

It will change when (1) the costs come down for laser printing to be cheaper, (2) the lasers are more reliable, and the big reason (3) the software for the gates is rewritten to print the correct number of copies automatically on laser printers.

Of course, the plan to get rid of three letter IATA codes and use four letter ICAO codes is also waiting on a software rewrite - been doing so for some 20 years.

I would not hold my breath waiting for the change over.

And I'm not sure that the laser printers are faster from hitting the print command to actual output of all the multiple copies than the dot-matrix printer.


User currently offlineBreninTW From Taiwan, joined Jul 2006, 1629 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 11396 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 13):
And I'm not sure that the laser printers are faster from hitting the print command to actual output of all the multiple copies than the dot-matrix printer.

And laser printers have this rather nasty habit of overheating at the worst possible moment ... something that rarely happens with DM printers.



I'm tired of the A vs. B sniping. Neither make planes that shed wings randomly!
User currently offlinejfidler From United States of America, joined exactly 14 years ago today! , 355 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 11363 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 13):
It will change when (1) the costs come down for laser printing to be cheaper, (2) the lasers are more reliable, and the big reason (3) the software for the gates is rewritten to print the correct number of copies automatically on laser printers.

I'm guessing #3 is the main reason. Laser printers can be loaded with multiple paper trays, and report back their tray status and toner status over the network to an IT person, so those issues can be dealt with before they arise. It's got to be a huge effort to reprogram all the gate software though.


User currently offlineflyBTV From United States of America, joined Jul 2012, 24 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 11359 times:
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This may be obvious/implied, but not every carrier uses DM printers. When I was with B6, we printed everything at the gate on laser. In my time there, I don't think I ever saw a DM printer, though all the other airlines had them.

Edit: Actually, we did print a few reports on thermal paper at the gate, now that I think about it. But this was before they made the reservation system transition. Not sure what they do now. No DM anywhere though.

[Edited 2013-07-04 20:55:10]

User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3967 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 10802 times:
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Quoting cha747 (Reply 7):
Everything else has changed, why not this?

Money.
As aluded to by flyBTV, a new airline buying the newest software versions from the usual vendors (eg Sabre) and building their infrastructure from scratch will use laser printers because they're natively supported and the acquisition and maintenance costs are lower.
They are not so lower, however, that it would make sense for a legacy airline to retire their existing printers, parts and supplies, rip out their current infrastructure for a new one, upgrade to newer software or update their current one, etc...

In addition, laser printers in large environments such as airlines work best in an IP network. That means not just new printers, but new computers, new network management, new switches, etc...

There are other industries besides aviation in the same boat. My semi-educated guess is that most legacy airlines will retain their dot matrix printers until wireless networks are advanced and secure enough to replace their existing network and bypass wired IP altogether. When a handful of antennas on top of IAD's main terminal is all it takes for United to connect to the printer and terminal at every gate, then they'll roll out the laser printers.



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineflyhigh@tom From India, joined Sep 2001, 392 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 10512 times:

Out of the top of my head...i think the dot matrix is so versatile...esp in aviation where you need triplicates and more of every document.

On a daily basis...we get to sign fuel receipts (6 of them with carbon paper in between), load sheet (4 copies), pax manifest (triplicate), cargo manifest (triplicate) ....all on board sheet (triplicate)

the dot matrix is really useful for the above applications and still provides hell a lot of savings over laser.

long live dot matrix 


User currently offlineYLWbased From Hong Kong, joined Jan 2006, 829 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 10086 times:

Majority of the Taxi Receipts in Hong Kong are printed with Dot Matrix printers, and courier forms.

I think aviation industry only makes up a small percentage of all dot matrix users.

YLWbased



Hong Kong is not China. Not better or worse, just different.
User currently offlineEIDL From Ireland, joined Apr 2012, 423 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 9956 times:

Still extensively used in the medical sector here for printing on NCR security paper stock - every state contractor doctors surgery and every single pharmacy will have at least one, generally an Oki / Okidata 3320 in pharmacies which seems to be the one at every gate in every airport here too.

I've got three different, new, ones in my van at the moment.


User currently offlinePalmyboy12 From New Zealand, joined Oct 2011, 57 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 9350 times:

Quoting cha747 (Thread starter):
Why are we still using 1970's/1980's technology in 2013 at the gate?

Why do we still board (and for most avgeeks, god-worship) an almost 50 year old quadjet?  



"You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline." Frank Zappa
User currently offlineabrown532 From UK - Northern Ireland, joined Feb 2008, 152 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 9296 times:

It is handy for printing triplicate copies relatively quickly...which when needing to print out pax lists/loadsheets and loadplans is handy, however, not when they sometimes inevitably suck in the paper they have just printed which has happened to me several times requiring a complete dismantling of the machine to free the paper, they have their downsides! But mostly good....

User currently offline9lflyguy From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 164 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 8889 times:

At my company, and I'm sure its the same for many regionals, the flight attendant's paper work is included in the pilots dispatch release. Having several places per page that are perforated makes separating the two a lot easier for the flight crew and no one loses any of the information they need.

Where I work as a flight attendant, we have both. At our base IAD we print in the crew lounge via laser and at our out stations via dot matrix. My self personally, I prefer the dot matrix. It's uniform, easy and clear to read, usually prints reasonably straight and having perforated sections so i can filter what I need for each flight and what I don't makes the dot matrix printers the clear winner. Just an opinion from someone who deals with this paperwork on a daily basis.  



My opinions do not represent the opinions of my company. They are solely the opinion of the poster.
User currently offlineSlcpilot From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 582 posts, RR: 2
Reply 24, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 8687 times:

Urban legend.... May be true or not...who knows?

Delta supposedly has several warehouses full of DM paper, and that's been part of the reason for the continued DM use. In fact, more than one gate agent has joked D-E-L-T-A

Destroy
Every
Last
Tree
Available

It seems to me a paperless cockpit will greatly reduce the need to print at the gate, but certainly not entirely!

Cheers!

SLCPilot



I don't like to be fueled by anger, I don't like to be fooled by lust...
User currently offlinesmi0006 From Australia, joined Jan 2008, 1531 posts, RR: 0
Reply 25, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 9133 times:

Ughh the bane of my existence! I can't say how many flights have been delayed be a min here or there, as I rapidly try to rebuild the bloody things after it got jammed!

We still use them for all our pre-flight editing as well, I find it therapeutic sitting there editing, marking off group coded pax for the flight whilst sipping my coffee. Using A4 paper and a laser printer wouldn't quiet be the same.

But I still love them, something very nostalgic about folding a long manifest as it prints, whilst you watch the passenger board - Romance of travel, no. Romance of groundstaff maybe :P


User currently offlinebrilondon From Canada, joined Aug 2005, 4204 posts, RR: 1
Reply 26, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 8732 times:

Quoting Slcpilot (Reply 24):

Urban legend.... May be true or not...who knows?

Delta supposedly has several warehouses full of DM paper, and that's been part of the reason for the continued DM use. In fact, more than one gate agent has joked D-E-L-T-A

Destroy
Every
Last
Tree
Available

It seems to me a paperless cockpit will greatly reduce the need to print at the gate, but certainly not entirely!

Cheers!

SLCPilot

They then could not say we just need to finish up the paper work to explain why they are 20 minutes late leaving the gate.



Rush for ever; Yankees all the way!!
User currently offlineairbazar From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 8287 posts, RR: 10
Reply 27, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 7724 times:

What I've alays wondered is, why do we need printers at all? Can't that information be transfered electronically?

User currently offlineexFWAOONW From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 28, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 7561 times:

Fed regulations require a copy of the flight release signed by the pilot be kept for a minimum of 1 year, to ensure he has/had a correct copy in case anything went wrong with the flight.

At NW we went to recycled paper in the printers. It was a continuous roll (like you see in bathrooms) with no folds. We used to cut to length over any convenient countertop edge. It could be a real pain as you got to the end of the roll as the pages all wanted to curl up instead of laying flat on your workspace.



Is just me, or is flying not as much fun anymore?
User currently offlinekgaiflyer From United States of America, joined Jul 2008, 4264 posts, RR: 1
Reply 29, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 7533 times:
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Quoting b757capt (Reply 9):
Long live the okie data!

I just priced an Okidata Microline 320 at $500.26.

OTOH, retailers are hawking cheap laser printers for as little as $129.00 in my area. True -- they won't do six-part forms.

[Edited 2013-07-05 08:55:58]

User currently offlineairbazar From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 8287 posts, RR: 10
Reply 30, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 7275 times:

Quoting exFWAOONW (Reply 28):
Fed regulations require a copy of the flight release signed by the pilot be kept for a minimum of 1 year, to ensure he has/had a correct copy in case anything went wrong with the flight.

You can do all of that with electronic versions, right down to signing it. I work in the financial services industry. We too have very strict SEC regulations.


User currently offlineflyby519 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 1136 posts, RR: 0
Reply 31, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 7078 times:

Quoting airbazar (Reply 30):

Anything in aviation is a good 10-15 years behind the rest of the industries in the world.



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User currently offlineexFWAOONW From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 32, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6826 times:

Quoting airbazar (Reply 30):
You can do all of that with electronic versions, right down to signing it. I work in the financial services industry. We too have very strict SEC regulations.

True, but when the ^%%$ hits the fan, (I won't use the appropriate aviation version of that phrase) they want to see originals, not digiatal copies that can be doctored after the fact.



Is just me, or is flying not as much fun anymore?
User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3967 posts, RR: 2
Reply 33, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 6628 times:
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Quoting airbazar (Reply 30):
You can do all of that with electronic versions, right down to signing it.

AFAIK, there is no approved electronic signature protocol for flight planning purpose yet.

Quoting exFWAOONW (Reply 32):
not digiatal copies that can be doctored after the fact.

It's not necessarily an issue, there are many ways to make digital copies (almost) tamper-proof, starting with storing the copy in several independent storage systems...



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineJBo From Sweden, joined Jan 2005, 2317 posts, RR: 0
Reply 34, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 6630 times:

Quoting exFWAOONW (Reply 32):
True, but when the ^%%$ hits the fan, (I won't use the appropriate aviation version of that phrase) they want to see originals, not digiatal copies that can be doctored after the fact.

FOD?  



I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.
User currently offlineFlyASAGuy2005 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 7004 posts, RR: 11
Reply 35, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 6448 times:

Quoting kgaiflyer (Reply 29):
I just priced an Okidata Microline 320 at $500.26.OTOH, retailers are hawking cheap laser printers for as little as $129.00 in my area. True -- they won't do six-part forms.

From our IT site, we're getting them (TTY printer) for significantly less. Of course this is because we're getting a HUGE corporate discount.

Flip side of it is we recently got a brand new laser printer for our office. It has yet to print a single sheet of paper due to software and hardware issues. HP finally decided to take it back and they will send us a new one after sitting for over a month.



What gets measured gets done.
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17019 posts, RR: 67
Reply 36, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 6406 times:

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 17):
There are other industries besides aviation in the same boat.

Rental car companies, for example.

Quoting YLWbased (Reply 19):
Majority of the Taxi Receipts in Hong Kong are printed with Dot Matrix printers, and courier forms.

All the HK taxi receipts I have seen are printed with thermal printers, not dot matrix.

Quoting airbazar (Reply 30):
Quoting exFWAOONW (Reply 28):
Fed regulations require a copy of the flight release signed by the pilot be kept for a minimum of 1 year, to ensure he has/had a correct copy in case anything went wrong with the flight.

You can do all of that with electronic versions, right down to signing it. I work in the financial services industry. We too have very strict SEC regulations.

There is a difference in magnitude. A large trading firm can easily process hundreds of thousands of trades per day. If you had to print out the confirmations (one for the customer, one for each counterpart) methinks that would be way more paper than an airliner produces.

More importantly, there is a difference in speed. I can't remember the exact details but recent Dodd-Frank regulations and so forth require confirmations to reach customers in something like ten minutes after the trade. You can't do that with paper.

There simply is no big enough incentive for airlines to invest in such systems even if regulations allowed them. On the other hand, in areas where going paperless has bigger advantages, like Electronic Flight Bags, airlines are rushing to adopt.

Booking systems are by and large a bastion of old mainframe systems, which is kinda funny since that's where many mainframe systems started. In the financial industry, product complexity and trading volumes have exploded in the past few decades, necessitating ever more advanced systems. For airlines, on the other hand, a booking now is not much different from a booking thirty years ago.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineMSJYOP28Apilot From United States of America, joined Jul 2009, 221 posts, RR: 1
Reply 37, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 6297 times:

The biggest thing keeping dot matrix printer alive is fear of modern technology. Just about everything can be done electronically. The FAA in most FSDO offices will and have approved Op Specs for just about anything kind of electronic record keeping and the dispatcher signature.

With pilots getting iPads, you could get the release and flight plan from dispatch on there and if the airline POI allows, it could be used to satisfy the FAR that requires the release and flight plan be carried o n the plane.

The big thing keeping Dot Matrix alive is that airlines dont trust modern technology. A flight cannot depart unless it is authorized by the dispatcher. The dispatcher must be able to send out the release for all his flights which normally number in 50-60 range. Modern technology is very prone to glitches and crashing. Older technology such as the AA Sabre system is a lot more stable and doesnt crash very often.

Airlines dont trust modern technology enough because they like the reliability of the older systems. Many dispatch offices use technology that is 10 to even 30 years behind the times. AA Sabre DECS is decades behind the times technology wise.

If the dispatcher cant plan a flight or send the release or the station/crew can pull the release because the system crashes often or gets glitchy, you will start taking delays and cancellations for it.

There are also some FAA FSDOs that dont trust modern technology and like things documented like they have been in the past.

Even with iPads, you are screwed if the iPad breaks or goes missing and are at an outstation unless you have a paper backup available to have the release on.

The dispatch release and appended weather package have so much info on them that it is almost better to have it in paper copy. The dispatch release has the fuel load breakdown in terms of how much fuel is given for enroute, alternate, reserve and extra fuel. It has the aircraft tail number, type of flight plan filed, equipment codes, MEL list, the flight plan and the winds/temps aloft at each fix plus all the weather. This is a huge amount of info. Add on to that the all the amendments made to the release such as changing, adding or removing alternates or MELs and it almost makes it a lot easier to have a paper copy to keep everyone the same page especially if their is some accident and the FAA wants documentation.

Many pilots check mark things off on the release. That forms part of their own personal check list so they know they also checked the weather, NOTAMs, and release just in the case the dispatcher missed anything or things have changed. It is a joint legal responsibility.


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17019 posts, RR: 67
Reply 38, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 6263 times:

Quoting MSJYOP28Apilot (Reply 37):
The big thing keeping Dot Matrix alive is that airlines dont trust modern technology.

Airlines are businesses and will (in an ideal world) make the investments with the best return. If this means moving to new printers, or away from printers entirely, they will do so.

However if an investment in, say, new branding or new aircraft or new routes has a higher return, airlines will do that instead. When I worked at a major technology company, a European railroad company was on the verge of renewing all their servers. When it came time to announce the vendor, they told everyone they were buying new locomotives instead as this was a better use of their capital.

Quoting MSJYOP28Apilot (Reply 37):
Modern technology is very prone to glitches and crashing. Older technology such as the AA Sabre system is a lot more stable and doesnt crash very often.

This is a common misconception. Modern technology is not more prone to glitches and crashing than old technology; rather the opposite in the grand scheme of things. You are confusing consumer systems with enterprise systems. The stuff that corporations (should) use for mission critical applications bears little resemblance beyond the interface to what sits on the home laptop. Modern enterprise systems are at least as reliable, if not more so, than their older counterparts. Most importantly change management, testing and redundancy on enterprise systems are the as robust today as thirty years ago.

Quoting MSJYOP28Apilot (Reply 37):
Even with iPads, you are screwed if the iPad breaks or goes missing and are at an outstation unless you have a paper backup available to have the release on.

Then have three iPads. Paper has reliability issues as well, and can also go missing. Printers break all the time.

Quoting MSJYOP28Apilot (Reply 37):
The dispatch release and appended weather package have so much info on them that it is almost better to have it in paper copy. The dispatch release has the fuel load breakdown in terms of how much fuel is given for enroute, alternate, reserve and extra fuel. It has the aircraft tail number, type of flight plan filed, equipment codes, MEL list, the flight plan and the winds/temps aloft at each fix plus all the weather. This is a huge amount of info. Add on to that the all the amendments made to the release such as changing, adding or removing alternates or MELs and it almost makes it a lot easier to have a paper copy to keep everyone the same page especially if their is some accident and the FAA wants documentation.

The fact that there is so much info should make a paperless solution better. Amendments are way easier to handle electronically. If there's an accident paper can be lost or destroyed. Enterprise document management and enterprise resource planning systems (I have worked with both) have very robust tracking routines for things like amendments.

Even in General Aviation, paperless is taking over. I never bring charts or do flight planning on paper. All on the iPad (ForeFlight rules). Sure the iPad could break down but I would still have an advanced avionics system with a moving map, and multiple radios. Doing weight and balance on paper? Forget it. There's an app for that. And this is in a Cessna 172. I'm much more likely to make a mistake doing fuel planning or weight and balance on paper than on the iPad.

Quoting MSJYOP28Apilot (Reply 37):
Many pilots check mark things off on the release. That forms part of their own personal check list so they know they also checked the weather, NOTAMs, and release just in the case the dispatcher missed anything or things have changed. It is a joint legal responsibility.

Easily implementable on an iPad. As a parallel, many modern airliners have electronic checklists with "checkmarks". Heck, a Cessna 172 with G1000 has electronic checklists. As for not missing anything, with electronic checklists you can have an actual record beyond just a checkmark on a piece of paper that could burn with the airplane if there is an accident.



As I see it, the whole thing is as generational as dead tree books versus ereaders. As the years pass, the people who are enamored with paper will retire, to be replaced with e-heads.

[Edited 2013-07-06 01:09:58]

[Edited 2013-07-06 01:11:47]


"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineFlyDeltaJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 1865 posts, RR: 2
Reply 39, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 6132 times:
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I worked ops for 1 airline and we had a virtual printer that allowed us to only print what was needed. Now the airline I currently work ops for anything that is sent is automatically printed to no less than 6 different printers. Total waste of paper.


The only valid opinions are those based in facts
User currently offlinejetblast From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 1231 posts, RR: 10
Reply 40, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 6072 times:

Quoting Slcpilot (Reply 24):
Delta supposedly has several warehouses full of DM paper, and that's been part of the reason for the continued DM use. In fact, more than one gate agent has joked D-E-L-T-A

Seems a bit overkill! I order the DM paper as well as ribbons from Staples, they still make them.



Speedbird Concorde One
User currently offlineDTW2HYD From United States of America, joined Jan 2013, 1859 posts, RR: 2
Reply 41, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 5537 times:

Quoting airbazar (Reply 30):
You can do all of that with electronic versions, right down to signing it. I work in the financial services industry. We too have very strict SEC regulations.

It is possible but requires a software redesign to make sure no manipulations of electronic records is possible. Note that financial services industry did it because law forced them after all the scandals. Few years back any corporation can say they will keep e-mail only for a month. That was a major excuse to produce to old records. Now they cannot do that.

DMP is the only "impact" printer which can print different fonts and graphics, so as long as there is lot of pre-printed stationary sitting around in airlines will continue to use it.

Even though you can print same page multiple times with laser it will cost more. There is no simple way to implement color coded copies. And most of the laser printers are full page printers and paper need to be certain weight for it to work properly. You can literally use wafer thin paper with DMP.

With thermal printers, print disappears after a while.


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25125 posts, RR: 22
Reply 42, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 5451 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 13):
Quoting brilondon (Reply 4):
And I loved to change the ribbon...

But at least the copies are legible. When you run a departure list, printing seven copies - and find the toner cartridge is out. Not only will you have to change the cartridge, but the flight will have to hold to wait on their copies.

And I assume a dot matrix ribbon is much cheaper than laser or inkjet printer toner. When I have to replace the 4 separate ink cartridges for my old (but reliable) Epson inkjet printer it costs almost as much as the printer itself.


User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 43, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 5451 times:

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 42):
When I have to replace the 4 separate ink cartridges for my old (but reliable) Epson inkjet printer it costs almost as much as the printer itself.

By design. Gillette didn't get rich selling razors - blades is what made money


User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21442 posts, RR: 54
Reply 44, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 5112 times:

Quoting MSJYOP28Apilot (Reply 37):
Even with iPads, you are screwed if the iPad breaks or goes missing and are at an outstation unless you have a paper backup available to have the release on.

Or unless you've got another iPad at hand (all airlines using them have one for each pilot as far as I'm aware). And even if both should break (highly unlikely) you can provide information to the pilots' smartphones via secure VPN for at least quadruple redundancy even just on board.

Quoting MSJYOP28Apilot (Reply 37):
The dispatch release and appended weather package have so much info on them that it is almost better to have it in paper copy.

Quite the opposite. The more information, the better it gets on the electronic screen as long as access and presentation are handled properly. Clarity and resolution are plenty on current iPads and much better than regular dot-matrix printouts.

Quoting MSJYOP28Apilot (Reply 37):
Add on to that the all the amendments made to the release such as changing, adding or removing alternates or MELs and it almost makes it a lot easier to have a paper copy to keep everyone the same page especially if their is some accident and the FAA wants documentation.

Much easier and more reliable with a proper electronic implementation.

Quoting DTW2HYD (Reply 41):
It is possible but requires a software redesign to make sure no manipulations of electronic records is possible.

That is bog-standard technology by now.


User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 6005 posts, RR: 14
Reply 45, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 4709 times:

Another thing to note is that airlines still use the SITA teletype messaging system for everything from inventory mangement to passenger manifests, and it's easier to print out and tear off a 3 inch message, than to waste an entire sheet of paper on it.


Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
User currently offlinesprout5199 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1852 posts, RR: 2
Reply 46, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 4572 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 38):
I never bring charts or do flight planning on paper

You don't take a sectional with you? IIRC here in the states, you are required to have one if you are flying beyond the local area(25 miles) of you home base on a VFR flight.

Dan in Jupiter


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17019 posts, RR: 67
Reply 47, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 4568 times:

Quoting sprout5199 (Reply 46):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 38):
I never bring charts or do flight planning on paper

You don't take a sectional with you? IIRC here in the states, you are required to have one if you are flying beyond the local area(25 miles) of you home base on a VFR flight.

I do have a sectional. It's on the iPad. It is also on the iPhone for that matter. Exactly identical to the paper sectional except that I can zoom in and out, click on airports, MOAs, etc to get info, I have weather overlays...

The examiner on my IFR checkride didn't seem to mind. She uses Foreflight herself. Having said that, the instructors at my school say that it is a bit of a grey area in the regs.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlinesprout5199 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1852 posts, RR: 2
Reply 48, posted (1 year 1 month 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 4343 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 47):
Having said that, the instructors at my school say that it is a bit of a grey area in the regs.


I did some research and you are not "required" to have one, however, if there is an issue, the FAA will come down hard with the good old "failure to prepare" for a flight.



Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 47):
Exactly identical to the paper sectional except that I can zoom in and out

I should get one as my old eyes have a hard time seeing the radio freqs and so forth on the sectional.

Dan in Jupiter


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17019 posts, RR: 67
Reply 49, posted (1 year 1 month 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 4334 times:

Quoting sprout5199 (Reply 48):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 47):
Having said that, the instructors at my school say that it is a bit of a grey area in the regs.


I did some research and you are not "required" to have one, however, if there is an issue, the FAA will come down hard with the good old "failure to prepare" for a flight.

Absolutely fair. However lots of people get lost or miss radio frequencies with a sectional. I'm not saying one is better than the other in absolute (for me the iPad is better), just that if I am well prepared with an iPad and Foreflight plus a moving map on the G1000, I'm not really worse off than with a sectional.

Quoting sprout5199 (Reply 48):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 47):
Exactly identical to the paper sectional except that I can zoom in and out

I should get one as my old eyes have a hard time seeing the radio freqs and so forth on the sectional.

No need for the sectional. Radio freqs are listed in the airport details of Foreflight. Worst case Foreflight can display the actual pertinent A/FD page.

Not to mention the G1000 database has all the radio frequencies so all I need to do is scroll to the airport and click a few times for automatic tuning.

[Edited 2013-07-17 04:56:57]


"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlinesprout5199 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1852 posts, RR: 2
Reply 50, posted (1 year 1 month 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4297 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 49):
Not to mention the G1000 database has all the radio frequencies so all I need to do is scroll to the airport and click a few times for automatic tuning.

Well the C-150 I own has a TKM MX 300. A G1000 system is worth more than my airplane.  

Staying on subject, a dot matrix printer would fit right at home in my airplane. No fancy stuff in it (well I do have a brand new clock/timer taped to the panel).

Dan in Jupiter


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