Safe Separation Where Radar Coverage Is Spotty... Or
Aircraft flying over the
Arctic Ocean can now fly more direct routes, save fuel and achieve
better on-time performance for passengers, thanks to the
FAA’s final implementation of Advanced Technologies and
Oceanic Procedures (ATOP) at the Alaska Air Route Traffic Control
"As we move toward the Next Generation Air Transportation
System, we will continue to introduce procedures and technologies
that help system users better serve their customers while
maintaining the highest levels of safety," said FAA Administrator
Marion C. Blakey.
ATOP has already been deployed at FAA centers in Ronkonkoma, NY
and Oakland, CA, providing air traffic service over the Atlantic
and Pacific regions.
Developed by Lockheed Martin, the technology enables controllers
to safely separate aircraft in areas outside radar coverage or
direct radio communication, such as over oceans. It detects
conflicts between aircraft and provides satellite data link
communication and position information to air traffic
ATOP significantly reduces the intensive manual process that has
limited the controllers’ flexibility to safely handle airline
requests for more efficient tracks over long oceanic routes. It
also reduces the workload on controllers through the use of
electronic flight strips instead of the labor-intensive paper strip
method previously used to track trans-oceanic aircraft.
"With the center at Anchorage becoming fully operational, the
ATOP system promises major benefits for air traffic controllers and
ultimately for airlines," said Sue Corcoran, vice president of
Aviation Solutions for Lockheed Martin.
"We are proud to have helped the FAA
meet its challenge to create a system that increases efficiency and
oceanic airspace capacity to meet growing international air traffic
More direct communication and reduced controller workload will
eventually enable reduced horizontal separation between aircraft
from 100 nautical miles (nm) to 30 nm. With greater transoceanic
capacity, more aircraft will be able to fly preferred routes.