Touching Bases: Controllers laud new surveillance system

 - July 15, 2008, 9:11 AM

A new runway and taxiway surveillance system, the Airport Movements Area Safety System (Amass), has gained the confidence of some air traffic controllers despite criticism of its performance by the NTSB. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) recounted two incidents at Boston  Logan International Airport in which Amass is credited for alerting ATC in time to prevent runway collisions. One of the incidents, last November, involved an Airbus and a business jet, according to Natca. In December, Natca said that an Amass alert prevented a possible collision between a 767 and two F-15 fighters. “Amass did exactly what it is programmed for,” Natca said, adding, “We stand by this equipment.” Just last September, the NTSB complained to Congress that Amass and airport surface detection equipment (ASDE-X) at 59 U.S. airports are both “unlikely to be sufficient to prevent runway collisions” because they provide no alert directly to pilots. To date, Amass has been commissioned at the main airports in Chicago, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle and St. Louis.