FAA system stays ATOP oceanic-flight safety, tracking

An FAA Air Route Traffic Control center

An air traffic system that allows controllers to reduce space between aircraft over U.S. oceanic air space is now fully operational at its first site'the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center'the Federal Aviation Administration said late last month.

The New York center controls airspace over the Atlantic Ocean.

The Advanced Technologies and Oceanic Procedures system automates existing manual procedures by integrating with radar-processing functions of the en route automated radar tracking system. It detects potential conflicts between aircraft and provides data link and surveillance capabilities.

ATOP allows air traffic controllers to reduce the separation between aircraft over the ocean from 100 to 30 nautical miles and enables communication between the aircraft and the control center. Previously, there was no radar tracking of and no direct radio communication with oceanic air traffic, unlike domestic air traffic.

FAA is also installing ATOP at control centers in Oakland, Calif., and Anchorage, Alaska, for the Pacific and Arctic regions. ATOP, developed since 2001 by Lockheed Martin Corp., will be fully operational in Oakland this fall and in Anchorage during the spring of 2006.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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