FAA plans when STARS will come out

FAA plans when STARS will come out


Nearly five years after the Federal Aviation Administration conceived its new airport approach radar system, the flight agency may finally be seeing STARS.

Raytheon Co. this month will upgrade software at El Paso International Airport in Texas, where a beta version of the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System is running, said Robert Meyer, manager of Raytheon's business division.

El Paso air traffic controllers will test the software, STARS Version FS-1, for several months before FAA will roll it out nationwide, said Kurt Schwerdt, Raytheon's system engineer for STARS. El Paso will continue to run the pre-FS-1 version as well.

On track for 2002

FAA does not plan for El Paso to use STARS Version FS-1 exclusively to track aircraft until spring next year, FAA spokeswoman Tammy Jones said.
STARS, designed to track aircraft within a 50-mile radius of an airport, is the next-generation FAA radar system. It uses a modified version of Raytheon's Autotrac air traffic software.

Air traffic controllers at Eglin Air Force Base use STARS to guide live traffic.

STARS software running at Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, N.Y., will be upgraded to Version FS-1 shortly thereafter, she said.
FAA has approved a tentative deployment schedule for another 12 airports over the next two years, Jones said.

By October, airports in Bradley, Conn., and Memphis, Tenn., will upgrade from the aging Automated Radar Terminal System to STARS Version FS-1, she said. Ten more airports will convert to STARS by November next year, Jones said.

Before FAA deploys FS-1, it will upgrade the equipment at the airports, which will prepare them for the eventual upgrade to FS-1 STARS, Jones said.

The rollout to 191 STARS sites will continue into 2008. By then, FAA expects to have spent $1.4 billion on the project.

The Defense Department, which teamed up with FAA on STARS' development, in July began using the first full version of STARS at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. DOD has not released a schedule for installation at 140 other locations.

STARS also uses TracView, an emergency backup system developed by Hughes Corp. before it was taken over by Raytheon. The two radar systems are redundant.

STARS FS-1 will incorporate 80 percent of the changes air traffic controllers have demanded, Schwerdt said.

In 1998, Congress ordered FAA to halt deployment plans and revise the software's development to contend with controllers' concerns.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which lobbied heavily against the original version of STARS, did not respond to requests for interviews.

The group's chief concern was that FAA planned to use workaround fixes for functions the original version of the new system could not do or did improperly. A team of controllers had identified 98 items they said needed modification or repair [GCN, Aug. 7, 2000, Page 54].

Check the menus

The workarounds included the use of pull-down menus for controllers to adjust their screens and switch modes, Schwerdt said. The approved changes added knobs the controllers can use to adjust the radar screen and flip between various modes, he said.

The new version also included all changes airways systems specialist groups suggested, Schwerdt said.

STARS Version FS-2, expected late this year, also will include new weather interfaces, Meyer said.
STARS runs under SunSoft Solaris on Sun Microsystems Ultra5 workstations with high-resolution 20-inch color monitors from Sony Corporation of America of Park Ridge, N.J. STARS terminals are networked using routers from Nortel Networks Corp. of Brampton, Ontario.

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