Installation of New Controller Aids Begins

 - May 6, 2008, 11:41 AM

As part of its ongoing Operational Evolution Plan (OEP), the FAA has begun installing new equipment that will simultaneously provide weather and aircraft position displays on the same controller scopes at en route centers and upgrading the system that sends predeparture clearances to the cockpit.

The weather and radar processor (Warp) will show advanced Doppler weather information on the same screen as aircraft position data. That will allow controllers to reroute air traffic to avoid areas of severe weather.

When the FAA recently replaced outdated controllers displays with new equipment, it enabled Warp to provide real-time aviation weather data running in background on the same screen. This configuration gives the controller a more accurate view of localized precipitation and supports quicker evaluation of the current weather’s effect on a particular airspace sector.

Warp uses different colors to show varying intensities of precipitation. It also shows precipitation at three different altitudes, allowing controllers to concentrate on the weather appropriate to the precise location and altitude of a particular aircraft. It first went into service at the Fort Worth (Texas) Center in early June.

In the tower environment, the FAA is upgrading equipment that provides predeparture flight clearance information, such as weather and airport conditions, via both text and automated voice messages. It said the tower datalink services (TDLS) upgrades will improve the reliability of service between tower controllers and pilots. TDLS is used by 17 major airlines, two GA service providers–which can relay flight information to 1,400 aircraft–and two cargo carriers.

The upgrade includes changes to system hardware, software and supporting technical documentation. Philadelphia and Boston Logan International Airports were the first two sites to receive upgrades. Over the next 12 months the FAA will upgrade 58 high-density airport towers in the U.S. that are currently using TDLS.

A new TDLS system was installed at Teterboro (N.J.) Airport last December under a memorandum of agreement between the FAA and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.