Thu, Jun 15, 2006
Says FTI System To Blame
Well... at least it
should still be under warranty.
Controllers working at the Atlanta Hartsfield International
Airport's sparkling new control tower found themselves doing their
jobs the old-fashioned way last week, when a telecommunications
system at the new tower went down for four-and-a-half hours on the
morning of June 8.
Officials with the Professional Airways Systems Specialists
union said the incident caused three flight delays, as controllers
resorted to faxing flight plans between the Peachtree City TRACON
and the tower, and writing out flight information by hand... just
like the good old days.
"The controllers had to use grease pencils to write on these
plastic flight strips," said PASS regional vice president Dave
Spero says the failure is disquieting, as the Hartsfield tower
is just over a month old... and what's worse, he told FCW.com this
delay may be "just a small sample of what's to come."
Why does he say that? Because, PASS says, the outage was caused
by a maintenance interruption to the FAA Telecommunications
Infrastructure (FTI) service... a system that also led to a radar
outage during a switchover at Chicago's O'Hare last year.
What's worse, the Department of Transportation inspector general
and lawmakers have questioned continuing the FTI program, as they
say it's behind schedule... not living up to expectations... and,
worse of all, is raising safety concerns the system was designed to
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