Phiadelphia air traffic control conks out : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

March 13, 2000

Phila. airport traffic control system conks out

Staff and wire report

The air traffic control system at Philadelphia International Airport failed for a half hour Friday night, for at least the third time since last May, government and labor union officials revealed.

A spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association said 30 to 40 aircraft were in the air when the airport's air traffic control system failed Friday night.

Controllers could not identify the aircraft on their radar screens, nor could they determine their altitude or speed.

The Federal Aviation Administration said 30 flights were delayed because of the problem.

It was unclear yesterday whether it was a hardware or software problem that caused the glitch with the old radar system.

Last year's system failures prompted Sen. Arlen Specter to push for new air traffic equipment at the airport.

Specter could not be reached last night but said after a visit to Philadelphia International last June that some airport flight equipment "dates back 40 years.

"There's one (radar) screen that tracks 26 airplanes. When it breaks down they have to do it manually."

Specter added, "Philadelphia has more in and out traffic than JFK, Washington National or Dulles."

Last May 17, a series of radar problems from a faulty computer processor caused the control tower to lose part of its jet-tracking data eight to 12 times. On May 5, 1999, a power failure knocked out radar scopes and radio contacts with jets in the air and on the ground for 23 minutes.

Airport spokesman Mark Pesce yesterday referred questions to the FAA.

-- - (, March 13, 2000

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