Release No. SW99120001
December 20, 1999
Contact: John Clabes
Phone: (405) 954-7500
EL PASO—The Federal Aviation Administration has started controlling arriving and departing air traffic here with the new air traffic controller workstations of its Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS). This is the first component to become operational as part of a phased strategy to deploy this state-of-the-art, full-service system nationwide.
Controllers and technicians at this West Texas radar approach control facility successfully integrated the existing automation system with the workstations, which feature high-resolution color monitors. Raytheon Corporation of Lexington, Mass., is the development contractor.
The event is the first major milestone in this important modernization program. Jane Garvey, FAA Administrator, hailed the first deployment and use of STARS in successful partnership with controllers, system specialists, unions and contractors.
"This is an important first step," Garvey said. "We will continue to work together to make sure that an operationally suitable and acceptable system is deployed at air traffic control facilities throughout the National Airspace System."
El Paso TRACON Air Traffic Manager Steve Atkinson said, "We are elated with the prospects of the new STARS system, and extremely proud of the efforts all parties put forward to make this happen." Novell Green, El Paso System Support Center manager added, "Our equipment is being replaced with new, state-of-the-art equipment that will be easier to maintain, more reliable, and certified to provide the best service, the kind our customers have come to expect."
Testing on the new workstations was completed in September. Raytheon engineers worked with FAA management, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Professional Airways System Specialists in partnership to develop the new system.
Once STARS is fully developed, it will provide air traffic control automation for any-size terminal facility. Major advantages in the system, in addition to the color monitors, include industry-developed software systems, an "evolutionary" approach to planned upgrades, reduced lifecycle costs through use of common hardware and software that can be maintained from remote stations.
STARS is planned to replace existing automation equipment at all FAA terminal radar approach facilities in the United States.
Initial hardware was installed last summer here and at Syracuse, N.Y., each serves as a key site for incremental development and deployment of the automation system. El Paso began operations with software containing interfaces recommended by human factors groups, including the two unions.
FAA will continue to develop and test the current hardware and software configuration until it is suitable to replace aging displays at other facilities. When these upgrades are accepted, national deployment will begin. A list of those sites will be published later. Development will then continue until a full service automation system suitable for FAA operational use is ready for deployment.
FAA officials said in the interim, a baseline full-service system will be deployed at Eglin AFB, Fla., and other Defense Department sites. Doing so enables the military to replace aging and hard-to-maintain equipment at its facilities while FAA finishes final modifications to the full system. Eglin testing will be completed this month.
STARS will be used for operations at Syracuse in January, 2000. Eglin will begin live operations next May.
Raytheon is under contract with the FAA to install STARS at 173 FAA terminal area control facilities, 199 military radar approach control facilities and at associated air traffic control towers over the next decade.
El Paso approach controls approximately 1,100 square miles of air space extending from West Texas in the east to Southern New Mexico in the west, and south to the border of Mexico. Last year controllers worked 160,000 operations. Twenty-eight air traffic controllers and 27 system specialists who maintain the equipment work at the facility.