The FAA Upgrades Air Traffic Control Equipment

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of
Transportation’s Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) is continuing its
efforts to upgrade the systems that
control air traffic.  The FAA is making
improvements in air traffic control
towers and at air traffic control
centers, providing enhanced services to
the user. 

In the air traffic control tower
environment, the FAA is upgrading
equipment that provides crucial pre-
departure flight clearance information,
such as weather and airport conditions,
via both text and automated voice
messages. The Tower Data Link Services
(TDLS) upgrades will enhance the
reliability of service between tower
controllers and pilots.

“TDLS is significant in that it reduces
air traffic controller and pilot
workload, frequency congestion, and
human-induced delay and error,” said
Gregory Burke, director of the Office
of Air Traffic Systems Development.

The upgrade includes changes to system
hardware, software, and supporting
technical documentation.  Philadelphia
and Boston Logan International Airports
were the first two sites to receive
upgrades.  Over the next 12 months, the
FAA will upgrade 58 high-density
airport towers in the U.S. that are
currently using TDLS.  TDLS is used by
17 major airlines, two general aviation
service providers who relay flight
information to 1,400 aircraft and two
cargo carriers. A new TDLS system was
installed at Teterboro Airport in New
Jersey last December under a memorandum
of agreement between the FAA and the
Port Authority of New York and New

In the air traffic control center
environment, the FAA continues to
deliver improvements to its Host and
Oceanic Computer System. These measures
continue to improve the reliability of
control operations by reducing delays
caused by equipment failures.


The air traffic control centers are
receiving state-of-the-art data storage
systems that replace 1980’s era
equipment.  There are currently 11
centers using the new upgrades and the
agency expects that all 21 centers will
have the new equipment by the end of
the year.

The Host and Oceanic Computer processes
critical radar and flight management
data, provides communications support,
and generates display data to air
traffic controllers. It also stores the
data used to recreate and analyze
unusual air traffic control events.