FAA OKs early version of air traffic control system

The Federal Aviation Administration has conditionally accepted an early version of the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, according to Raytheon Co., which developed the system.

The STARS system will upgrade the aging displays and computers used by controllers to manage air traffic within a 50-mile radius of the nation's airports.

The FAA has been forced to delay full deployment of the system because of many technical and design problems, so the agency is trying to put some STARS technology into the field as quickly as possible.

The early display configuration (EDC) of STARS is not the complete STARS system but rather a color display and workstation linked to the current computer system.

Raytheon said it has begun operational tests on the EDC version of STARS that will focus on hands-on testing by controllers. Once operational testing is complete, STARS EDC will be installed at facilities at El Paso, Texas and Syracuse, N.Y., and will begin initial operations at these sites in December.

The FAA also plans to roll out an interim version of the full STARS system at a number of sites. STARS eventually will replace the computer and display systems in 172 FAA terminal air traffic control facilities and up to 199 Defense Department facilities throughout the country.

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