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The Bluecoat Project

The Bluecoat Project was created by Bill Bulfer as a means of opening an ongoing discussion between the engineers who build flight deck automation systems and the pilots who use them. The goal of the Bluecoat Project is to provide clear and unrestricted exchange of accurate information between participants. The Bluecoat Project is comprised of airline pilots, engineers, and aero industry researchers interacting through an electronic mailing-list. Discussion topics include flight management computers, EFIS and EICAS displays, automated subsystems, flight mode annunciators, flight directors, autopilots, and the integration all avionics equipment in the modern cockpit. Although the project started as a mailing list it is now a full-fledged internet forum which includes a parallel mailing-list on B-737 systems (excluding FMS). Detailed information regarding contents and registration can be found on servers both in the U.S.A. (Houston) and in Europe (main server in Bretigny, near Paris, France).

A bit of history : The Bluecoat School of London

In the early 1800's, (before the development of the chronometer) the ship's captain had to rely on the skills of a trained mathematician, for the only way to find longitude at sea was by precise observations of the moon and stars. Sometimes these calculations took up to four hours. This made the problem of determining longitude an educational as well as a technological problem, and sea-faring nations organized mathematics courses for common sailors.

In the late 18th century, Charles II set up a mathematics course for forty pupils at the famous Bluecoat school in London. But teachers found it hard to satisfy both the sailors and the mathematicians. The governors of the school, noting that many great sailors had done well enough without mathematics, asked whether future sailors really needed it. On the side of mathematics, Sir Isaac Newton argued that the old rules of thumb were no longer good enough. Daniel Boorstin - "The Discoverers"

Bluecoat today

This brings us to the Bluecoat Forum. It attempts to improve the lines of communication between the mathematician and the ship's navigator, the designer and the pilot.

The Bluecoat E-Mag is a news and research feed between the engineer and the pilot, and between pilots. The goal is to provide clear, unrestricted exchange of accurate information between participants, and to discuss issues facing pilots of advanced technology aircraft.

  • The Bluecoat E-Mag charter:
    A moderated discussion-group dealing with the advanced cockpit transport. Topics include, but are not limited to, transport category Flight Management Systems, instrument displays, and Mode Control Panels.
  • Present organization:
    The Bluecoat Forum is maintained by volunteers including Bill Bulfer, CAL - 737 Captain and Author of the "737 and Big Boeing FMC User's Guides and 737 Cockpit Panel Notes" (moderator); Jim Messina, CAL - 737 Captain (mailing-list maintainer); Eric Hoffman (web maintenance at Eurocontrol).
  • How to post to the mailing-lists : Rules of behavior

    The usual Internet rules for "netiquette" apply to Bluecoat's mailing-list. A few important points follow :
  • Try to keep your post on topic for your Subject. Better to have multiple posts, each with a different Subject. It is imperative to keep the Subject: Re: (subject) when maintaining a thread. Most mailers do this. All Bluecoat mailing-list exchanges are duplicated on password-protected web pages. The web transcripts are read by Bluecoaters who do not wish to have their mailbox clogged by the mailing-list. The archiving software used to generate the transcripts threads messages according to Subject line contents. Once you subscribe to Bluecoat you may find that you prefer to read it on the web; please ask (by private e-mail) the mailing-list maintainer to switch you to the web (you will still receive important administrative messages via e-mail).
  • Try to keep your right margin less than 80 characters e.g. 72 for original posts and replies. Use your carriage return key!
  • Try to minimize the amount of a prior post used in your reply, using just enough lines necessary to reference the thought at hand. This saves space space for everyone and avoid confusion as to who said what. A satirical introduction to netiquette can be read in deutsch, english, español, franšais, or italiano.
  • Anonymous postings will not be accepted, but the moderator will sanitize information if the request is made (for example if you would like to post something but are reluctant to draw undue attention to either yourself or your organization the moderator will gladly launder your post clean of all references to you).
  • Unacceptable posts. Do not post virus alerts, exceedingly long messages, messages where most of the text is included from a previous message, binary files such as programs or pdf reports (please get in touch with administrators), questions on how to use your computer, humor which is unrelated to flight deck automation. Offenders will be reprimanded (at least).

    What does it cost and who is it open to?

    Subscription to the Bluecoat Forum is free and available worldwide to any transport pilot, transport component engineer, regulator, or research scientist working in this field. You must have an electronic address that can be accessed through the Internet.

    Occasionally, all subscriber's names, employers, and e-mail addresses are made available to others receiving the digest.

    How to subscribe

    In the registration form (see below), briefly introduce yourself, describe your work, and the equipment you operate or plan to bid. If you would like to volunteer to be a moderator, please state.

    After the System Operator manually enters you to the list, you may communicate to the whole group by sending mail to a "list address" issued in your welcome message. Your subscription may not occur immediately, as some members of the Bluecoat admin team are line pilots who live and work out of suitcases 3 or 4 days a week.

    Mail can be sent to individuals in the usual manner. Members are invited but are warned that their mailbox will be full if they do not check their mail on a frequent basis (Bluecoat generates from 5 to 10 messages per day). We recommend infrequent readers to access Bluecoat directly on our password-protected web pages (if that is your intent please mention it in your registration form).

    Once you have read all the above
    (especially the rules of behavior)
    you may


    (All subsystems excluding FMS)

    When will I receive the first issue?

    Anytime you send a letter to list address, it is immediately sent to all subscribers, including yourself (sometimes you might only receive it after a delay of a few hours). On a monthly basis, the moderator simply collects certain articles, conducts the research, and publishes the results in the digest format.

    How do I get off the list if I so choose?

    Anytime you would like to be removed, (I can't imagine this happening) simply send mail to jmessina@bluecoat.org with at least the word unsubscribe in your message (but that is terse!).

    Please copy and send this letter to other professionals in the industry as a means to invite them to join.

    My Internet address is bbulfer_at_firstnethou.com
    My Compuserve address is 71063.526_at_compuserve.com

    Disclaimer regarding this server

    The Bluecoat Team
    Last modified: Mon Jun 8 00:23:39 1998