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air traffic control

ZAU returns to service

I’m proud to say the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) in Aurora, Illinois, is up and running two weeks after a September 26 fire. 

The men and women of Technical Operations worked tirelessly, re-establishing power sources; troubleshooting to restore service; addressing immediate communication needs between the facilities that assumed control of the Chicago airspace; and helping cover for colleagues who worked to bring the ARTCC back to business.

Our aviation system continued to function safely and efficiently, while minimizing impact to the traveling public over the last two weeks.  I’d like to thank members of the traveling public --especially those who were disrupted when the Chicago center was initially disabled-- for your patience...

Photo of F.A.A. team getting Aurora center back online

FAA completes ADS-B network, a key NextGen upgrade

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration announced completion of a nationwide infrastructure upgrade that will enable air traffic controllers to track aircraft with greater accuracy and reliability, while also giving pilots more information in the cockpit. It's a key improvement in our Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).

The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) radio network supports a satellite-based surveillance system that tracks aircraft with the help of GPS. The installation of this radio network clears the way for air traffic controllers to begin using ADS-B to separate equipped aircraft nationwide.

With the upgraded surveillance and broadcast system and aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out transponders, aircraft positions on controller screens update almost continuously, compared to every 4.7 seconds or longer with radar, providing more accurate aircraft location information than the current radar system.

Air Traffic Controllers Recognized with Archie League Medal of Safety Awards

One of the best parts of my job is seeing the great work FAA employees do each day to keep us safe in the skies, and last week I had the opportunity to recognize some outstanding Air Traffic Controllers for their performance under pressure. These awards are well-deserved, but the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) Archie League awards are not the kind of recognition that anyone seeks out.  

These awards are presented to controllers whose actions helped a pilot through a potentially dangerous situation by employing technical skill, quick thinking, and clear communications. A pilot may end up in distress because of bad weather, a mechanical issue, or even a health problem; the controller’s response must be safe, coordinated, and quick...   

Archie League logo

Meet Kyle Smith: USAF Lieutenant, STEM student, aviation problem-solver

Photo of Secretary Foxx presenting RAISE Award to Kyle SmithI have said over and over again that although we must invest more in America's infrastructure, spending more money is not enough to restore our nation's transportation system to the level of safety and efficiency our economic vitality requires.  We also need some good, old-fashioned American inventiveness so we can use our resources more effectively.

The Secretary's RAISE Award, an aviation innovation challenge, asks the best and brightest minds from American high schools, colleges, and universities to help us manage our limited airspace more safely and efficiently, and this year's winning submission from USAF Lieutenant Kyle Smith promises to do exactly that.

In fact, the airborne collision avoidance system Lt. Smith proposed last year while he was a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is so promising, it's already being put through its paces at the Federal Aviation Administration's Hughes Technical Center.

FAA Command Center, TRACONs keep eyes on the big picture

If you're like most people, when you think about air traffic control and aviation safety, you probably picture an airport tower jutting into the sky with controllers inside focusing intently on their radar screens and the aircraft flying in and out of that airport. And while that's not an inaccurate picture, there's more to the story. The Federal Aviation Administration also has regional Terminal Radar Approach Control centers--aviation insiders call them TRACONs--and a Command Center where traffic management experts look at the big picture of our national airspace system...

Photoof Secretary Foxx at Command Center

Statement on Sequestration, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, 22 February 2013

On Sequestration and the Federal Aviation Administration

Sequestration will have a serious impact on the transportation services that are critical to the traveling public and the nation’s economy. At DOT we will need to cut nearly a billion dollars, which will affect dozens of our programs.

Over $600 million of those cuts will need to come from the Federal Aviation Administration – the agency that controls and manages our nation’s skies. As a result of these cuts, the vast majority of the FAA’s nearly 47,000 employees will be furloughed for approximately one day per pay period until the end of the fiscal year. In some cases it could be as many as two furlough days per pay period.