Washington Dulles Gets New Ground Monitoring System

Washington Dulles outside the nation's capital is the latest airport to use satellite technology to improve ground safety beyond the limits of radar, FAA announced Monday. Air traffic controllers began using the new Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X system on April 1 to see a more complete picture of activity on the ground. Dulles became the 12th airport with ASDE-X.

"ASDE-X is light years ahead of the old system," said Dulles Tower Assistant Air Traffic Manager Charlotte Happle. "The accuracy is very good, and it helps us with our ground movements, especially during times when visibility is low." Radar can return false targets on the ground and is less reliable in bad weather. By incorporating radar data with signals from aircraft and vehicle transponders, ground sensors, and satellite technology, ASDE-X overcomes those problems.

The new system is also designed to work with future components of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), which FAA describes as "a long-term process to improve safety, efficiency, and capacity in U.S. aviation."

Sensis Corporation is providing ASDE-X technology for 35 airports. with FAA estimating it will cost $806 million to procure, deploy, and operate ASDE-X during a 30-year life cycle. Airports previously equipped with it include Chicago O'Hare, Atlanta, and Orlando, with Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport scheduled to operate its ASDE-X this June, followed by New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in August.

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