Airport radar under scrutiny : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Airport radar under scrutiny PHILADELPHIA March 14  A team of investigators are looking into radar problems that have been plaguging the airport. Friday night the system went down putting hundreds of lives in danger. Theyll be looking at the airports aging system. News 10s Lisa Mishler has the story.

Federal Aviation Administration

PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL Airport has the sixteenth busiest air traffic control tower in the country. It handles more flights than any other on the East Coast.

Since May 1999, the 40-year old Automated Radar Tracking System that tracks all of the flights has failed four times. At times, controllers were left with no way of communicating with planes in the air.

If were at max capacity or we have a system we have problems with, I think its time to scrub it and go to a new system, said Dan Mullen, from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

Friday night four arriving flights and 36 departing flights were delayed when a hardware problem caused the system to crash. Travelers say radar failures are raising fears.

It makes my stomach turn, said one traveler. You worry about flying anyway when you flight frequently and it just makes you a little more nervous about it.

I just feel safer on the ground than in the air, said one man. I feel like I have a little more control than flying.

The FAA put Philadelphia 42nd on the list for installation of a new digital state of the art radar system. Its development has been delayed.

Senator Arlen Specter toured Philadelphias tower after the May incidents hoping to move that time line up. He said he fears any further delays could cost lives.

These delays are tied up with the whole question of safety, Specter said. What really concerns me is its just a matter of time until something disastrous happens.

The new radar system might be not be running as long as four years. The Air Traffic Controllers Union and inspectors are now looking at other systems that could be put into place much sooner.

A final report on FAA investigator findings may not be available until Thursday.

-- - (, March 14, 2000

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