Prime contractor Raytheon and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration have finished installing the standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars) at the first of 11 large terminal radar approach control (Tracon) facilities in the U.S. Air traffic controllers at the Dallas/Fort Worth Tracon started “continuous operation” with Stars ahead of schedule in early May, Raytheon announced at the Paris Air Show last month.
With President Obama’s FAA budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014 awaiting action by Congress, 11 aviation organizations signed a joint letter to the leaders of the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations committees calling for continued funding for contract air traffic control towers.
As air traffic grows at a frantic pace, India has to deal with the challenges posed by ageing air traffic management (ATM) infrastructure and the need to train more air traffic controllers (ATCOs). Progress is being made, however, despite a very limited budget.
“Remote tower” ATC systems advanced by Saab have passed site acceptance testing in Norway and Sweden, paving the way for broader acceptance of the technology at small and regional airports that have no manned tower or a tower that is temporarily staffed during the day.
The Raytheon standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars) began continuous operations in early May at the Dallas-Fort Worth terminal radar approach control (Tracon) facility, the first of 11 large Tracons in the U.S. to manage air traffic continuously using the new ATC automation system.
In the space of less than 24 hours in late April, Congress passed a bill that staved off air traffic controller furloughs and produced “found” money to keep low-activity contract control towers operating. With lawmakers eying another vacation that would officially begin on April 27 and end on May 5, the Senate passed a measure on the night of April 25 that would prevent furloughs of essential FAA employees, including air traffic controllers.
“The FAA has decided not to pursue the elimination of midnight shifts at FAA towers at this time,” a spokesman for the agency told AIN today. As part of sequester-mandated cuts announced in late February, the FAA had planned to eliminate overnight shifts at 72 air traffic control facilities, including those at Chicago Midway Airport.
When President Obama signed bipartisan legislation Tuesday that suspended furloughs for air traffic controllers, he also threw a lifeline to 149 contract towers that were slated to be closed.
In a last-ditch effort to stop the FAA’s furloughing of air traffic controllers to meet government-wide budget reductions, the House and Senate passed legislation late last week to transfer money from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund to pay controllers’ salaries and prevent the closure of some privately operated control towers. Congress quickly moved to relieve the FAA of its need to furlough controllers after just five days of prolonged flight delays at major airports last week.
A remotely controlled ATC tower constructed by Saab for Norway’s Avinor air navigation service has passed the site acceptance tests that will eventually allow for a smoother fit into the Sesar air traffic management system, Europe’s version of NextGen, once final testing of the facility’s operations is completed.