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New Terminal Radar System Deployed in Syracuse - (1/28/2000)

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Unprecedented cooperation between the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Federal Aviation Administration has turned the fledgling Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System into a symbol of the nation’s modern air traffic control system to come. STARS was successfully deployed in Syracuse, N.Y., on Jan. 13, 2000.

STARS will replace the computer and aging displays in FAA and Department of Defense terminal radar approach control facilities and air traffic control towers. Controllers will use the system, which will supplant the current Automated Radar Terminal Systems, to provide air traffic control services to aircraft within a 50-mile radius of an airport.

“This program is an excellent example of the successes that can be achieved when the FAA works in conjunction with controllers,” said Randy Schwitz, NATCA executive vice president.

When the project started in 1996, NATCA representatives were not consulted in the program’s development. However, since STARS was already behind schedule and over budget, it took a 1998 congressional directive to persuade the FAA to address controllers’ concerns. A team of union specialists reviewed the proposed equipment and found 98 separate aspects of STARS that required modification or repair.

“We would not compromise on this equipment,” Schwitz said. “The replacement system had to greatly exceed our current set-up for NATCA to support the deployment. Throughout the course of this project, we built a relationship based on trust with the agency. Together we worked through weaknesses to end up with a superior piece of equipment.” Unlike today’s equipment, STARS provides an easily upgradable platform, a feature designed to circumvent modernization problems that could be incurred down the road.

“Modernization of the air traffic control system has always been one of our top priorities,” Schwitz said. “It’s a long process but the success of STARS shows that both sides are committed to providing the newest technology and keeping our skies the safest in the world.”

The teamwork that developed between the agency and the union helped to create an aggressive deployment schedule. Fifteen additional terminal facilities will be outfitted with the STARS hardware over the next two years.


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