We Guide You Home

Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement (TAMR)

Kyle Ness is the NATCA TAMR Article 114 Representative 

Background:  The TAMR program deploys and sustains Terminal Automation for the Terminal Radar Approach Controls (TRACONs) and associated Air Traffic Control Towers in the National Airspace System (NAS). The automation platform for the terminal NAS is the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS). Deployment of the STARS system is currently being accomplished in two tech refresh phases – replace the approximately 100 Automated Radar Terminal Systems (ARTS) and tech refresh the STARS G1/G2 systems deployed pre-2007 with G4 and G4 ELITE hardware. STARS is sustained by the TAMR PMO, Terminal Second Level Engineering (TSLE) and the prime vendor, Raytheon. Sustainment activities include STARS software/hardware requirements, software/hardware development and testing, STARS training, Safety Risk Management, and field support. 

The STARS software schedule was put on hold due to COVID but is once again making progress. The next build to go to the field is S6.R9. The agency has made R9 a high priority and the build will be tested in early December and January at the Tech Center in Atlantic City, NJ. Progress on R9 will result in progress on S6.R10 and the build that follows which is S8.R1. Keysites for R9 and R10 are SCT, PHL and R90. 

Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP) reported a missed Mode-C Intruder (MCI) alarm when an aircraft inbound to Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) went into Conflict Alert with an aircraft squawking 1200. GMU tower noticed the alert on the STARS display but did not hear the aural alarm. Analysis by Raytheon revealed a software bug as the cause but only under very unique circumstances – the site must be adapted to force alerts to towers on tracks owned by the TRACON and the track has to be in one alert condition and then go into another. NATCA raised the issue as a high priority with Terminal Second Level Engineering (TSLE) and a software fix will be forthcoming. NATCA also engaged AJV and AJT to inform the field facilites of the potential hazard. 

Potomac Consolidated Tracon (PCT) reported a safety alert event involving two tracks because the controller felt the Conflict Alert should have activated when it did not. Detailed analysis showed that while the two tracks were in close proximity, the Conflict Alert did not activate because ADS-B data provided faster altitude updates from both tracks. The more accurate altitude reporting provided the algorithm better data and kept the alarm from sounding. Improved track and altitude data from ADS-B will continue to reduce nuisance alerts and improve safety. 

ARCON presented the results of a Conflict Alert algorithm called LINCON VTBA to Surveillance and Tracking Work Group. The intent of VTBA was to catch borderline Conflict Alert situations processed by the LINCON Conflict Alert algorithm. Analysis and scenario data showed too many valid alerts were missed and other alerts were added. In short, negative outcomes outnumbered positive results and VTBA as a software improvement was closed. 

Joshua Control Facility (JCF) completed STARS CADRE training and will begin controller training late November. IOC is scheduled February 27, 2021. 

Each STARS system has a printer that has been used primarily by Tech Ops to print out reports and diagnostic data. This printer also prints a document for Air Traffic which is commonly known as a “ZP” because the command to create the printout is <F7> <Z> <P>. When controllers see an anomaly on a track they enter the command and slew on the track. The resulting printout provides all the detailed information about the track and can help to diagnose any problems. A decision was made by STARS stakeholders including NATCA and PASS to sunset the printer in 2016 and implement a print-to-file function in STARS. A replacement printer would not be available and eventually the field would transition to print-to-file once the existing printers were out of stock. It took four years, but the first printer to fail without a replacement occurred at Lake Charles, LA. STARS stakeholders met to discuss the transition strategy and agreed to sunset the printer over the next calendar year. This will require Air Traffic and Tech Ops at each site to work together to retrieve the electronic version of these printouts when they are needed. Second Level Engineering is producing documentation. 

Jason Rose is the NATCA TAMR Systems Engineering Lead 

Background:  The Systems Engineering Lead represents NATCA for STARS software and hardware requirements. The Systems Engineering Lead also coordinates software/hardware development and deployment activity for NATCA including Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E), SME selection, software planning, site rules and Safety Risk Management, Discrepancy Report resolution, and vendor Early User Involvement (EUI) events. 

During the last month, Mr. Rose has participated in the TAMR STARS Weekly Look Ahead. The goal of this meeting is touch base with the TAMR STARS team to discuss any needs for accomplishing goals in the near future. He also participated in NATCA/TAMR PMO Tag ups, TAMR/STARS TSAS Meetings and the STARS Strategic Planning (SSP) Meetings – The purpose of the STARS Strategic Planning Meeting is to coordinate and get feedback on integrated hardware and software planning among TAMR stakeholders. 

System Technical Reports Working Group (STRWG) – Stakeholders came to concurrence on software updates to FAAst14584 Site Rule Conversion: Baseline STARS-)-0143 added functionality beyond STARS-O-0116. This software updates the DMS Site Rule D0116 to be modified so that a flight will display a limited data block (LDB) when within the unassociated altitude filter limits and display Mode 3 beacon code in the LDB. Stakeholders also came to concurrence on software updates to FAAst12548 Enhanced Converging Runway Display Aid (CRDA). This requirement had previously been concurred but a second concurrence was needed to approve clarification changes to the SSS (System/Subsystem Specification) requirements. Software updates to FAAst07656 STARS does not monitor RTQC on Standby Feeds for Data Presence was also approved. This software updates monitoring of radar data on the inactive radar feed will be enhanced by modifying the CGW to perform further evaluation of the statistics messages sent by both NUNIOs. Continued discussions between Stakeholders on STRs:  Linked ATPA volumes, Add Associated Airport Qualifier to GTM Inhibit Areas, X4000 Processor On-Board Video and ADS-B in Phase 1 requirements. ADS-in Capability within STARS requirements were finalized and sent out to all participants for final review and comments. The requirement was sent to the STRWG where Stakeholders got a first look and review by Raytheon. 

Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E) – A virtual Test Coordination Meeting (TCM) for the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) S6.R9 Drop 5 Operational Test & Evaluation (OT&E) Run for Record (RFR) and Drops 6/7/8 OT&E Regression was held on November 19, 2020. The objective of the meeting was to discuss the latest concerns of Covid-19 and any new safety precaution’s being taken by TSLE Test to ensure physical/social distancing and the safety of others. SME’s will travel to the Tech Center on November 30, 2020 and travel home December 18, 2020. The STARS S6.R9 Drops 6/7/8 OT&E Regression will be conducted January 12, 2021 through January 14, 2021. 

Safety Risk Management (SRM) Panel – held for Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS): Orders JO 6191.5 Change 2, STARS Generation 4 (G4) Maintenance Technical Handbook (MTHB), JO 6191.6 Change 2, STARS Enhanced Local Integrated Tower Equipment (ELITE) MTHB, and their associated Case Files M2422-STARS-1005A and M2422-STARS-1006A on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. The SRM Panel reviewed the maintenance handbook (JO 6191.5) changes and determined they are procedural, editorial, or technical and will have no safety impact to the National Airspace System (NAS). Each DDR change and Notice on the spreadsheet was discussed and concurred to by the SRM Panel members. The SRM Panel reviewed the maintenance handbook (JO 6191.6) changes and determined they are procedural, editorial, or technical and will have no safety impact to the National Airspace System (NAS).  Each DDR change and Notice on the spreadsheet was discussed and concurred to by the SRM Panel members. The STARS ELITE MTHB, JO 6191.6 has an existing, documented, and accepted hazard for the Periodic Maintenance (PM) of Section 5-24 in which there is a loss of redundancy (Momentary loss of system) when this PM needs to be performed.  The cause is a single service resource redundancy checks with an unknown operational system defect. This hazard is currently being monitored in SMTS.  The panel determined that the changes in Change 2 do not affect this hazard.