First Precision Runway Monitor Approach Conducted at Philidelphia International Airport

ARLINGTON, Va., June 4, 2002—A US Airways Airbus A-321 and a US Airways Express DASH-8 operated by Allegheny Airlines yesterday became the first commercial aircraft to complete simultaneous parallel landings at Philadelphia International Airport using a new state-of-the-art radar system call Precision Runway Monitor (PRM), which will increase airport capacity while maintaining a high level of safety.

With the new landing system, these two aircraft touched down at Philadelphia International Airport 3,000 feet apart on runways 27L and 26. The normal minimum separation for this type of operation is 4,300 feet.

“We are very pleased to have Precision Runway Monitor operational at one of our key hub airports and expect that over time this new system will reduce weather related delays at Philadelphia,” said Jim Frazier, US Airways’ director of Air Traffic Control & Airfield Operations. This is one of many necessary improvements to enhance and expand Philadelphia International’s ability to handle more air traffic.”

“Precision Runway Monitor enables aircraft that are flying final approaches to parallel runways to approach and land closer together while significantly enhancing safety,” said Capt. Terry McVenes, executive vice chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association Air Safety Committee and the pilot who flew the A-321. “Because the radar return updates so quickly, the controller sees a set of target trails that provide extremely accurate trend information. The one-second update gives controllers significantly more time to respond.”

PRM was developed for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to reduce delays at major U.S. airports during poor weather conditions. It represents the combined efforts of airlines, pilots, controllers and the FAA. PRM enables simultaneous instrument approaches to parallel runways with runway centerlines separated by less than the standard minimums. It is a standalone, electronically scanned secondary surveillance radar. Its one-second-update rate is 4.8 times faster than conventional radar systems. This radar, coupled with high-resolution digital displays and predictive alert and alarm algorithms, significantly improves the air traffic controllers’ capability to monitor aircraft on final approach.


The Philadelphia PRM implementation represents the culmination of two years of intense collaborative work by the FAA, US Airways, the Air Line Pilots’ Association, the National Air Traffic Controllers’ Association and the City of Philadelphia.

Frank Hatfield, manager air traffic division for the FAA’s Eastern Region, said, “Because of runway limitations, Philadelphia is most susceptible to poor weather delays and the introduction of Precision Runway Monitor will help to improve safety while reducing those delays. We’re pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the airlines at Philadelphia, as well as with the pilots and controllers who operate the system, to successfully execute today’s first step in the Philadelphia PRM implementation process.”