Tue, Jul 31, 2007
Blames Lack Of FAA Action For Equipment Shortage
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association reports for the
second time in six months, a primary radar failure Sunday morning
at Cincinnati Tower (CVG) and Terminal Radar Approach Control
(TRACON), combined with what the union calls a lack of appropriate
secondary radar feeds, delayed scores of flights into and out of
the nation's 14th-busiest airport at the beginning of a morning
rush hour period.
NATCA reports the outage began at 0736 EDT Sunday -- and by the
time it ended at 1030, 29 departing flights were delayed between 28
and 39 minutes each. Controllers instituted a first-tier ground
stop, meaning Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC, or
"center") and Indianapolis Center put flights to CVG into holding
The union tells ANN there are only two long-range radar feeds
into CVG, meaning that when controllers have to rely on secondary
radar, they cannot "see" planes on their radar scopes that are
below 5,000 feet. In those situations, such as on Sunday,
Cincinnati air traffic controllers were forced to use non-radar
procedures, which are based on time and distance measurements and
result in 10-mile gaps between departing flights.
The normal arrival rate into CVG is 108 aircraft per hour.
During Sunday’s outage, that was cut to 32. NATCA says the
failure -- and the resulting domino-effect -- can be blamed on what
it calls the "lack of Federal Aviation Administration action to
give local CVG management the radar feeds necessary to keep the
airport running efficiently in the event of power
"We need other radar feeds," said Jason Hubbard, the CVG
facility representative for the National Air Traffic Controllers
Association. "The FAA has the ability to bring others in, but it
appears to be a cost problem."
The union says local FAA management officials have tried to
rectify the problem... but says local calls to senior FAA officials
to fix the problem have been ignored.
Hubbard said the FAA termed a similar radar outage in January
"unprecedented..." and the likelihood of one happening again was
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