The 'Stars' Come Out

Hughes, David
June 2003
Aviation Week & Space Technology;6/16/2003, Vol. 158 Issue 24, p82
Trade Publication
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finally commissioned the first Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (Stars) at a major airport after years of delay, and the agency is gearing up for a nationwide rollout to replace obsolete equipment. FAA administrator Marion C. Blakey said the installation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the launching pad for Stars, a "centerpiece" of FAA efforts to modernize air traffic control. Stars has an open architecture that will allow the agency "to introduce changes on an as-needed basis," she added. Stars replaces a variety of back-room computers and displays at U.S. Terminal Radar Approach Control (Tracon) facilities, and uses an automated system. But the program is one of many in the FAA's ATC modernization plan that has been chronically behind schedule and over budget. There have also been some concerns about the potential for software glitches with the new system, but Blakey said there haven't been any significant computer problems during the past six months in Philadelphia. U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, who pushed for Philadelphia to be first with Stars in operation at a major airport, was able to proclaim safety and efficiency improvements at the service inauguration. The $3.8-million Stars system gives Philadelphia Tracon the capacity to track about 750 aircraft simultaneously within 60 mi. of the airport based on testing, and it provides capability for growth to thousands of tracks.


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