Funding lifts air traffic control tech

The Federal Aviation Administration's capital modernization program is well-funded

to bring new technology to the air traffic control system, according to

Monte Belger, acting deputy administrator of the FAA.

The FAA received funding for fiscal 2001 in many areas that exceeded

the recommendations of both the House and Senate.

The total amount of Transportation Department appropriations signed

by President Clinton Oct. 23 was $58.5 billion. The FAA will receive $12

billion, which is $787 million more than the president's $11.2 billion request.

Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater said in a statement that he is

pleased that $2.66 billion was included for the FAA's modernization program.

Steve Zaidman, FAA associate administrator for research and acquisitions,

said the FAA and Congress worked collaboratively to get a realistic budget

for 2001.

One area of adjustment involved FAA's Free Flight program, which will

bring technology to air traffic controllers and pilots that will allow for

more direct routing and better decision-making.

Free Flight Phase 1 received $177.8 million, slightly more than the

FAA's request, because there was a slight increase to enhance deployment

of the Departure Spacing Program, said Robert Voss, deputy director of Free

Flight Phase 1 for FAA. DSP already is in use at the New York Air Route

Traffic Control Center.

But Free Flight Phase 2, which is intended to expand use of the five

Free Flight Phase 1 technologies now being tested at several control centers

and terminal radar control facilities, was granted funds $10 million short

of its $25 million requested level.

"We'll just have to ramp up a little bit slower," Voss said. FAA still

needs to assess the impact of the shortfall for Phase 2 and was a bit surprised

because both the House and Senate recommended the $25 million level before

the conference committee met.

Free Flight Phase 1 will stay right on schedule, installing another

Traffic Management Adviser tool in the next few months and a passive Final

Approach Spacing Tool (pFAST) at the Southern California Terminal Radar

Approach Control facility in the early part of 2001.

Other funding levels for FAA projects include:

* Wide-Area Augmentation System

House recommendation: $106 million

Senate recommendation: $37 million

Compromise: $111.8 million

* Local-Area Augmentation System

House recommendation: $31 million

Senate recommendation: $37 million

Compromise: $37 million

* Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS)

House recommendation: $114.8 million

Senate recommendation: $116.8 million

Compromise: $117 million

* Runway incursion programs

Request of $1.5 million boosted to $5 million

* Research, engineering and development

House recommendation: $184 million

Senate recommendation: $183 million

Compromise: $187 million

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