Union Says US New Billion
Dollar Air Traffic
System Unsafe!
From ScienceDaily
NEW YORK (AP) -- A technicians' union wants to delay the 1999 start-up of a $1 billion air traffic control system, saying it will jeopardize traveler safety, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The Professional Airways Systems Specialists said the new system lacks the alarms and monitoring features to give warnings when it is beginning to fail.
Current technology sounds alarms and lights if there is a glitch that drops an airplane from a controller's screen. The union said the new system doesn't do that; a controller has to keep constant watch.
The system is slated to be launched in March 1999 at the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, with later installations likely in New York and Dallas. The union wants a delay.
Federal Aviation Administration officials acknowledged shortcomings with the new system, but said the current system is falling apart and needs to be replaced.
They insisted that the new program, the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS), can be safely used. Monte Belger, a deputy FAA administrator, said the agency is talking with the union but all problems may not be addressed by March.
The union and the FAA also are not sure the system will function properly when the calendar rolls over in 2000, when computers may have a problem adjusting.
Raytheon, which made the system, said there is nothing to fear from the calendar change but said tests to prove it would cost $2.6 million, the Times reported. The FAA has told Raytheon to spend $500,000 to design a test.

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