- How are radar sites identified as candidates for divestiture?
- How will the FAA ensure that National Airspace System (NAS) operations remain at the highest levels of safety?
- How will air traffic control (ATC) be involved in the radar divestiture process?
- How will divesting radars impact ATC operations?
- Why is the FAA buying new radars and then divesting others?
- Will radar divestiture change the FAA's approach to maintaining radars?
- When a radar discontinues service, what happens to the radar equipment? Can it be moved to another location that needs new or better coverage?
Questions & Answers
How are radar sites identified as candidates for divestiture?
The original radar divestiture list came from an analysis performed by the Surveillance Portfolio Analysis (SPA) working group in 2017. This team consisted of representatives from the Surveillance Services Directorate, Air Traffic Services, National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Technical Operations, and the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). As a group, the SPA reviewed radar needs in the context of surveillance services in the NAS after the implementation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). The Radar Divestiture team is now carrying the SPA work forward by socializing the list with stakeholders and conducting further analysis of candidate radars to examine additional factors for consideration. The team is looking more closely at each candidate radar on a site-by-site basis to examine the nature of overlapping coverage, radar proximity, geometric distribution, impacts to line of site (e.g., terrain, buildings), feeds to the automation platform (e.g., the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement) and air traffic operational needs; as well as maintenance, security and defense requirements. The results of this next level of analysis will be briefed at the launch of each site-specific radar divestiture process.
How will the FAA ensure that National Airspace System (NAS) operations remain at the highest levels of safety?
The program will perform a thorough engineering analysis to ensure a radar can be safely removed and remaining sensors are optimized to provide air traffic controllers with situational awareness for the safe and efficient use of the NAS. In addition, the program will conduct local Safety Risk Management (SRM) panels to analyze candidate radars on a site-by-site basis. The site SRM panel will evaluate the operational impact, identify any hazards, and mitigate risk as required prior to removing a candidate radar. Existing standard operating procedures for discontinuing and decommissioning radars will be adapted based on site-specific requirements.
How will air traffic control (ATC) be involved in the radar divestiture process?
Air Traffic (AT) is a primary stakeholder group, heavily involved in the radar divestiture process. At a programmatic level, AT representatives from the FAA headquarters management and NATCA are an integral part of the team to help guide, plan and execute the program. In addition, the program will work with AT groups across the Service Areas to ensure regional interests are addressed.
Moreover, the program team will actively engage with local AT representatives during site implementation. At a minimum, the program will request local ATC representatives:
- Serve as local subject matter experts
- Participate in programmatic meetings and conference calls
- Provide site operational information and data
- Conduct side-by-side ATC display comparisons to evaluate sensor performance
- Participate in the local Safety Risk Management (SRM) panel
ATC operations will be a key focus area throughout the radar divestiture process. The program's mission is to capitalize on the benefits of new surveillance technology by strategically reshaping our radar infrastructure to gain efficiencies and optimize services for air traffic control (ATC) operations today and into the future. The program is committed to ensuring any change to operations is properly addressed and managed. The program team includes representatives from NATCA and Operational Planning and Integration to ensure operational interests and concerns are taken into account. Each operational facility, however, is configured and operates differently. Therefore, the program will work directly with local representatives to review standard operating procedures, contingency plans and any other relevant operational data to ensure divestiture activities account for site-specific nuances.
A large network of radars will continue to play a major role in providing surveillance services for air traffic. Therefore, the FAA will continue to make investments to sustain or replace radars required for safe and efficient operations. With the implementation of new technologies (such as ADS-B, Wide Area Multilateration, and Fusion), the FAA will continue to assess areas with multiple layers of overlapping coverage and will adjust the network accordingly. Right sizing the surveillance infrastructure will help us fiscally manage the overall cost of ownership of the NAS surveillance infrastructure.
The program does not expect radar divestiture to change the maintenance and/or certification of the remaining radars. However, the program team is heavily engaged with Technical Operations and the program's Article 13 Professional Aviation Safety Specialists representative to ensure Operations and Maintenance concerns are properly addressed.
New surveillance coverage requirements are not in the scope of this program. However, the program will work with surveillance stakeholders to determine the best use of the radar equipment once it is divested. Prior to decommissioning a radar, the program will coordinate with the Surveillance Leadership Team (SLT), consisting of representatives from Technical Operations, Logistics , and the Program Management Organization , to develop a site-specific disposition plan. Once the radar is decommissioned, the SLT will execute the site-specific disposition plan to ensure assets are utilized to best serve surveillance services users.