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Budget-Driven FAA at Work Again: Lack of Attention, Money to Local Cincinnati Radar Needs Costs Agency During Outage Sunday That Delayed Scores of Flights - (7/30/2007)

CONTACT: Jason Hubbard, 859-512-3099
CINCINNATI – For the second time in six months, a primary radar failure Sunday morning at Cincinnati Tower (CVG) and Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) and lack of appropriate secondary radar feeds severely delayed scores of flights into and out of the nation’s 14th-busiest airport at the beginning of a morning rush hour period. It also exposed again the lack of Federal Aviation Administration action to give local CVG management the radar feeds necessary to keep the airport running efficiently in the event of power interruptions.
The outage began at 7:36 a.m. EDT Sunday and by the time it ended at 10:30, 29 departing flights were delayed between 28 and 39 minutes each. Controllers instituted a first-tier ground stop, meaning Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC, or “center”) and Indianapolis Center put flights to CVG into holding patterns.
There are only two long-range radar feeds into CVG, meaning that when controllers have to rely on secondary radar, they cannot “see” planes on their radar scopes that are below 5,000 feet. In those situations, such as on Sunday, Cincinnati air traffic controllers were forced to use non-radar procedures, which are based on time and distance measurements and result in 10-mile gaps between departing flights. The normal arrival rate into CVG is 108 aircraft per hour. During Sunday’s outage, that was cut to 32.
“We need other radar feeds,” said Jason Hubbard, the CVG facility representative for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. “The FAA has the ability to bring others in, but it appears to be a cost problem.” Simply put, local FAA management officials’ calls to senior FAA officials to fix the problem have been ignored.
Hubbard said the FAA termed a similar radar outage in January “unprecedented” and the likelihood of one happening again was “rare.”

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