When the FAA was looking for ways to slash expenditures by more than $600 million in Fiscal Year 2013 as part of “sequestration” cuts mandated by the U.S. Congress last spring, part of the plans was a shutdown of 149 low-activity contract control towers.
The Aircraft Accident Investigation Board of Norway issued its final report explaining how confusion between two aircraft with similar call signs resulted in a near-collision at Oslo Airport in October last year. The incident occurred as a Norwegian Air Shuttle Boeing 737-800 (NAX 741) executed a missed approach as another of the company’s aircraft (NAX 740) was taking off.
Stop-gap legislation enacted in late May enabled the FAA to abandon its budget-trimming plan–prompted by sequestration cuts imposed by Congress–to close the 149 contract air traffic control towers starting on June 15. However, the agency left open the possibility that the towers could be closed when the new fiscal year starts on October 1, which is now just two weeks away.
Vehicle movement area transmitters (Vmats) have been installed at both Denver (DEN) and St. Louis-Lambert (STL) international airports to help improve runway safety.
The prospect of an ATC facility without human air traffic controllers is progressing well, according to Dr. Dave Byers, a pioneer in the technology that would enable this development.
Construction began recently on the south satellite control tower building at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The facility is to monitor traffic that will primarily use the airport’s new Runway 28L/10R, which is to open in the fall of 2015. The top of the tower-cab antennas will rise 219 feet agl, with the controller’s-eye-view inside the cab set at 194 feet agl. The $28 million facility is expected to operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time.
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.
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