USA Today - "FAA: New traffic system too slow to use" : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

FAA: New traffic system too slow to use

A new $2.2 billion computer system designed to replace aging air traffic computers at the nation's busiest airports is so slow that it can't be installed until it is fixed, USA TODAY has learned. In FAA tests last month, the system called STARS was two to three times slower in displaying aircraft radar positions and responding to traffic controllers' commands, according to a report obtained by the newspaper. The Federal Aviation Administration's director of air traffic systems, Peter Challan, said the system needs improvement before it can be placed in facilities such as Washington's Reagan National Airport, where it was scheduled to be deployed last month. Instead, it first will be placed in facilities with much less traffic. Challan said the FAA is sticking with STARS and working with contractor Raytheon Co., controllers and its own engineers to speed it up. "We've made some improvements already," he said.

Raytheon calls tests 'unofficial and incomplete

All in all, it was just another brick in the wall.
Pink Floyd

-- Online2Much (, April 07, 1999



FAA: New traffic system too slow to use

-- Online2Much (, April 07, 1999.

Double sigh. USA Today's already changed their article at that URL.

-- No Spam Please (, April 07, 1999.

... that is, the article is still at Raytheon calls tests 'unofficial and incomplete but not at the other link.

-- No Spam Please (, April 07, 1999.

Hoffmeister, Maria, Mutha, Deano, Norm and any other folks blowing smoke.

If the new system is 2 to 3 times slower than the current antiquated one, why not just put 2 to 3 times less planes in the air? That would result in 2 to 3 times less passengers in the air. We could then train these folks to remediate the FAA computer systems and they would be back in the air in no time flying with computer systems they had repaired. They should all feel more secure.


-- Ray (, April 07, 1999.

yep, just like some of us were saying yesterday...the FAA has been lying all along...

y'know Ray, I bet the pollys ignore this thread altogether...


-- Arlin H. Adams (, April 07, 1999. the plague, Arlin:-)

-- Nabi Davidson (, April 07, 1999.

Any bets that the new system was written in some easy-to-use high level language, that generates tons of overhead, compared to good old ASAP Assembly language? <:)=

-- Sysman (, April 07, 1999.

Just tell the pilots to fly slower.

-- Nathan (, April 07, 1999.

I don't think they could fly that slow Nathan. It could lead to planes falling from the sky! <:)=

-- Sysman (, April 07, 1999.

Another quote from the same article:

"Response-time problems are in part because:

The system was adapted from what was supposed to be its backup computer system. Air traffic controllers requested software changes. Parts of the system rely on the older equipment. "

-- Doomslayer (1@2.3), April 07, 1999.

And designate window seats as observation stations, for passengers 15 years and older (no drinking).

-- Lisa (, April 07, 1999.

Interesting article. Doesn't appear to have any relationship to Y2k, though.

The STARS system is apparently replacing the Automated Radar Terminal Systems, or ARTS. Link

However, don't see any indication that ARTS has to be replaced for Y2k. In fact, ARTS is one of the systems being tested in Denver this weekend:

Denver Y2k Test

Participating systems include the Host computer, which drives controller displays at high altitude, en route centers; the Automated Radar Terminal System (ARTS) IIIE, a computer that drives controller displays at large TRACONs, and ARTS IIA, a computer that drives controller displays at small to medium-sized TRACONs.

-- Hoffmeister (, April 07, 1999.

For Pete's sake. Why is everybody still so dense?! There will be no planes flying thus no planes falling out of the sky. FAA is inept. Case closed. Put all their lying toasters on a plane 12/31/1999 and send them off. Add the pollytrolls too. Let them party together.

-- h (h@h.h), April 07, 1999.

The STARS system has nothing to do with the Y2K problem. Seems to me that a lot of desperate doomers are doing their utmost to squeeze controversy out of thin air - once again....

"On January 1, 1999 they will experience many more, and it will be much more difficult to sweep them under the rug. On April 1, 1999 we will all watch anxiously as the governments of Japan and Canada, as well as the state of New York, begin their 1999-2000 fiscal year; at that moment, the speculation about Y2K will end, and we will have tangible evidence of whether governmental computer systems work or not."-- Ed Yourdon

"So, of course I want to see y2k bring down the system, all over the world. I have hoped for this all of my adult life." -- Gary North

-- Y2K Pro (, April 07, 1999.

Y2K Pro(???)

Did you ever respond to the question of WHY the FAA is LYING??


-- Ray (, April 07, 1999.

And the chant continues; "LIES, LIES, LIES".

Keep repeating to yourself Ray; at least here, most don't ask you to back it up.

-- Hoffmeister (, April 07, 1999.

Hoffmeister commented:

"And the chant continues; "LIES, LIES, LIES".

Keep repeating to yourself Ray; at least here, most don't ask you to back it up. "

Gee Hoff, I don't have to spend much time backing it up the FAA does a GREAT job on its own>

I guess I just refuse to let the liberal establishment (Most Pollys Included) get away with using politically correct terms like misunderstanding etc. Think I really hit a nerve here. Stay tuned.

Sincerely, Ray

-- Ray (, April 07, 1999.


Give it a rest. Hoffmeister did an amazing job of looking up, organizing, and posting the facts. These facts prove you wrong in every respect. Don't you even wonder about this?

"The deluded are filled with absolutes, the rest of us must deal with ambiguity" -- Walter John Williams

-- Flint (, April 07, 1999.


what is the relationship of this story to y2k? simple: faa's real y2k problem is that it has been historically inept with technology. thus, their problems with y2k. social security, on the other hand, has historically been good with technology (and if you know ssa's y2k efforts, you really have to impressed, especially as compared with an agency like the faa).

this story today is simply another example of their long-standing ineptitude. y2k is, among other things, a technology project. this story shows how the faa all-too-often handles technology.

incidentally, from the other thread- the definition of "renovation" means "compliant." now, personally, i would have real problems accepting the faa's testing methodology, given the diverse nature of their current geographical setup. the caveat to that would be the fact that ray long is in charge, and by all accounts, he is quite good.

that said, though, you need to know that the faa's credibility on capitol hill is largely somewhere south of zero, by their own admission (when they went up with good news last year at one point, they admitted they didn't think anyone would believe them). in addition, the airlines and companies like cessna are on the record as questioning the readiness of the faa, as are other people in the airspace system, as they have told me in no uncertain terms, off the record. that doesn't mean the faa won't be ready, but historically, as a bureaucracy, they have alienated **many** people for years and years in the aviation industry. they are distrusted by an awful lot of people. if you don't know this, you don't know anything about the airspace system.

-- Drew Parkhill/CBN News (, April 07, 1999.

Flint, why is it that when the term LIE is associated with what some in this government have said you folks come out of the woodwork? If you don't believe we are being lied to by the likes of John Koskinen and jane Garvey at the FAA then I'll back up a TURNIP truck for you.

Sincerely, Ray

-- Ray (, April 07, 1999.

Ray, I notice that when someone challenges you to back up a claim with even a single supportable detail, you attack the challenger. Don't you even wonder about this?

-- Flint (, April 07, 1999.

Flint, please answer my previous question.

Thanks in advance.


-- Ray (, April 07, 1999.

Thank you Drew, that is exactly why I posted it.

When I posted this at 6:00 AM this morning, I was already at work, and didn't have time to do much more then post it. I guess my cryptic reference to the Pink Floyd lyrics weren't understood. I wasn't implying that it was a y2k problem, just another brick in the rather dense wall that we lovingly refer to as the FAA.

-- Online2Much (, April 07, 1999.


The point of the other thread had nothing to do with the FAA's credibility, or technical expertise. For all I know, you're 100% correct regarding the FAA in this regard. Though, as an outside observer and frequent air passenger, on the whole I'd have to say the Air systems seem to function pretty well.

The point was the specific claims being made of "lying", in regard to public statements about Y2k status. I had heard them for the last 3 months, and decided to actually research the statements.

As for the definition of "renovation" meaning "compliant", what is your reference? Off the top of my head, I would equate "renovation" with the term "remediation", which is how the FAA used it. In any case, the FAA supplied a very specific definition of how they defined the term in regard to the Y2k project, a definition which also matches the GAO's, if I'm not mistaken.

As for this current story, the fact that it isn't directly related to a Y2k fix also points out another, secondary indicator of Y2k status. Just my observation, but to a certain extent new, non-Y2k related development projects are starting to pick up. I'm starting to see more SAP projects started, something that had really slowed down for the last 6 months. The fact that organizations, such as the FAA, aren't currently scrambling "all hands" to Y2k seems to be a secondary indicator that they at least feel comfortable it's under control.

-- Hoffmeister (, April 07, 1999.


i realize you intended to specifically deal with the specific charge of "lying." i'm simply saying that there's a broader theme, which can be called a lot of things, including credibility. the faa does not have a lot with a lot of people, and there are reasons for that. one of which is historic technology incompetence, another of which is simple trustworthiness (one person once told me his observation was the faa spent a lot of time in bureaucratic cya).

as for renovation meaning compliant, what is my source/reference? you. you posted this in the previous thread:

"3. Renovation - to achieve compliance of Y2K-impacted systems."

that seems pretty plain to me. as i said before, given time digital's story, i would personally have a hard time accepting as compliant systems which went through that type of renovation, given the way faa systems have evolved away from each other over time. there's more involved here than simple adherence to language and definitions.

finally, i think you're really reaching to assume that this usa today story is any indicator of progress. i don't know of any organization, public or private, that shut down all other activities to simply deal with y2k. although i would say that in the last few days there was a news story about how businesses will be freezing software purchases, upgrades, etc, in order to focus on y2k. i personally consider that a positive (and, to put it mildly, necessary) development.

-- Drew Parkhill/CBN News (, April 07, 1999.


i missed your pink floyd reference as i was flying (so to speak :) through here earlier today. guess i need some education and thought control after all :)

-- drew parkhill/cbn news (, April 07, 1999.


Granted, the terms themselves do not have a "standard" definition across all organizations. Sorry about the "compliant" reference; you're absolutely right on its inclusion in the definition. But again, the FAA has been completely consistent in its reporting.

On whether the FAA testing is adequate, I have no direct knowledge. One thing I'm fairly sure of; the tech's at FAA probably have a much greater understanding of what's required in testing than either you or I.

My point on the article was not that it was progress, just that it was a secondary indicator. Much like the failure of the massive shortage of COBOL programmers to materialize. Granted, most organizations will freeze maintenance changes sometime soon, hopefully. I know, Cory's interpretation is that companies have just given up. But seriously, that just hasn't been my experience. For better or worse, when faced with a IT project problem, managements answer is to throw money and bodies at it. I don't think Y2k changes that.

-- Hoffmeister (, April 07, 1999.


i think you can make a case that the faa has been consistent in its reporting (bet i could knock it down if i worked hard enough, though- and i'm not going to try). however, consistency in reporting, particularly with respect to definition of terms, is not a barometer of accuracy, or truthfulness. it's technically the same as "i did not have sexual relations with that woman, miss lewinsky." true, accurate, but not properly conveying the correct meaning. semantics, hair-splitting, i know- but it could be important.

whether or not faa techs have a better understanding than we do (and i'm sure they do) is not the point. the point is, do they have enough *time* to get the job done? ie, have they resorted to these measures due to time strictures? blazes if i know. they sure don't inspire confidence in me. of course, that doesn't really mean anything. that said, i don't think we'll really know for some months to come where they really stand. this is one y2k subject i've done some work on, but not enough to really make even a really educated guess, beyond just suspecting that the u.s. airspace system will not be fully compliant come 1/1/00. the question then becomes how much economic damage will that lack of compliance do, and how long will it last? i don't know, and neither does anyone else.

it is not my experience, in talking with people involved in all aspects of y2k from literally all over the country- and, to a lesser extent, around the world- that companies have given up. i expect at minimum at high percentage of the fortune 500 to be ready. the senate report nailed it: the *real* problem is the medium-sized businesses. i talked to one risk management type last fall who told me he was *still* getting calls from $100m businesses saying, "this is a hoax, isn't it?" (or words very close to that effect). such organizations have their work cut out for them. oh, i could go on, and on, and on, and on...

-- Drew Parkhill/CBN News (, April 07, 1999.

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