The FAA is devoted to advancing the quality, safety and efficiency of the American air traffic system. The continued deployment of the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System at airports and Terminal Radar Approach Control facilities last year was a clear demonstration of that commitment. The STARS program is helping build a safer airspace by giving terminal air traffic controllers a complete and precise picture of the airspace from a single platform.
STARS receives surveillance data and flight plan information that it presents to air traffic controllers, so they can monitor, control and accept hand-off of air traffic. Facilities utilizing STARS handle approximately 80 percent of the air traffic in the United States, including some of the busiest airports in the world.
STARS helps air traffic controllers monitor and direct air traffic within the terminal airspace, up to 60 miles around airports and up to 14,000 feet in the air. “We handle every arrival and departure,” STARS Program Manager Christopher Rogers of Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information & Services business said. “The terminal airspace can become extremely congested and STARS provides controllers with the confidence to safely manage this increasingly complex environment.”
By providing a single national software baseline and capabilities at each facility that uses the system, air traffic controllers have gained a strategic advantage for managing an ever more complicated airspace. “In the future, as new capabilities and enhancements are made to STARS, they will be available seamlessly for use at all STARS facilities,” Rogers said.
The team that implemented and delivered STARS was recently awarded the Air Traffic Control Association’s annual Industry Award for exceptional performance delivering America’s next-generation air traffic control system for terminal area airspace management. In giving the award, ATCA recognized the STARS team’s outstanding contributions to air traffic control safety, its 100-percent on-time delivery and its ability to drive down program costs while speeding the implementation of the system across the United States.
“In 2017, we established a record of delivering this safety-critical system to 68 sites across the United States. We completed it with 100-percent on-time delivery and without any interruption to operational availability,” Rogers said. “That is more than one location per week, which required an amazing amount of coordination between Raytheon, the FAA, NATCA, the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, and the facilities to make this happen.”
According to Rogers, STARS is on track to be deployed at all FAA TRACONS and towers in addition to all Department of Defense facilities by the end of 2019, which will be the first time in the history of the National Airspace System that all terminal facilities will be on a common hardware and software baseline.
As they head toward that milestone, Raytheon continues to evaluate new technologies that could be implemented in future iterations of STARS, including touch screens and tablets and the addition of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Rogers shared that the team is looking forward to showcasing some of these technologies at the upcoming ATCA Annual meeting which will be held just outside Washington D.C. in early October.
To learn more about STARS and its ATCA Industry Award, read the release here, or visit Raytheon at the ATCA Annual meeting.