Another breakdown DC airport : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Washington, D.C., airport experiences another breakdown BY Paula Shaki Trimble 01/13/2000

All of the main frequencies and voice circuits at the control tower of Washington, D.C.'s Ronald Reagan National Airport failed for nearly an hour Tuesday when a power cable connector slid down a wire during an upgrade to the power system and hit one of three circuit breaker switches, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

The power loss caused no impact to airport operations, said FAA spokesman Fraser Jones. Air traffic controllers used emergency transceivers to continue voice communications with aircraft pilots.

The incident comes nearly a week after a breakdown at Washington Center, which handles air traffic from New York, Boston, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Teterboro, N.J., and all of Washington, D.C.'s airports. An investigation into that incident showed that a manual restart of a computer system held up a flight plan from Raleigh-Durham just as it was about to be printed, Jones said. FAA manually restarts the system to recertify it every other day, he said. Because the printer did not respond to the flight plan, the flight plan got stuck in the buffer and backed up the transmission of other flight plans to the printer, he said.

The backup prompted the control center to stop accepting traffic from all airports until the system could be restarted, affecting more than 300 flights.

-- Martin Thompson (, January 13, 2000


Thanks for the report. Another Y2K problem hits DC!!!

-- (, January 13, 2000.


-- Cin (, January 13, 2000.

How is this possibly a Y2K problem?

-- nobody (, January 13, 2000.

Right, of course it's not a Y2K problem. Y2K has been fixed. There are no Y2K problems.

-- (, January 13, 2000.

Maybe, possibly, kinda a Y2K problem due to the failures occuring during an "upgrade to the power system" at the control tower -- which may or may not be unrelated to the inital outage/ATC computer system crash last week. Pure speculation to say so, and someone who handles archives better than I can do the research. I DO know that the O'Hare control tower was running on generator power all through the first week post-rollover: it may still be. If O'Hare is off grid, it would be for a reason. Presumabley that would be unreliable commerical power sources. It is also reasonable to WONDER (as some were topcially wondering last week) whether other airport control towers might also be off grid, due to the same condition. WHO KNOWS. Obviously nothing in this wire story suggests as much. But an upgrade to a power system at this time leaves the matter open to our intelligent discussion/blathering.

How long we will do this is another matter.


-- Squirrel Hunter (nuts@upina.tree), January 13, 2000.

Just came from the grocery store (independent Co-op); debit system not working. Asked the cashier, "it was double billing"....

-- Joe Shmoe (DC/, January 13, 2000.

Definitely Y2K!!

We are in breakdowns and disruptions for sure. Even the nation's capitol will not be spared.

-- I'mSo (, January 13, 2000.

Guys somethings up..This whole thing is fishy..

-- Lady Bug (Lady Bug@Bubble.Com), January 13, 2000.

Marines called in to relieve Palm Springs airport radar crisis with military fix

-- Lady Bug (Lady Bug@Bubble.Com), January 13, 2000.

US Spy Satellites Virtually Blinded By Y2K For Three Days, Not A Few Hours

And lord knows there not going to be upfront and tell the truth about it..

-- Lady Bug (Lady Bug@Bubble.Com), January 13, 2000.

Re: Outdated Link

Marines called in to relieve Palm Springs airport radar crisis with military fix

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) -- Marines have been called in to set up temporary military radar at Palm Springs International Airport, which has been plagued by a faulty system shut down three weeks ago because it wasn't detecting air traffic.

Marine Corps specialists were at the airport Friday to select a location for the mobile radar facility, which was expected to be operational Monday, said Curtis Warren, local National Air Traffic Controllers Association spokesman.

The airport has been without radar since Dec. 19, when chronic problems led Federal Aviation Administration technicians to shut it down for repairs.

The balky radar, described by Warren as "a hodgepodge of cast off systems, covers a 30-mile radius.

"Much to the FAA's credit, they've called in the military and circumvented the entire procurement process and brought in the Marines," Warren said.

A 25-member FAA technical team spent eight days examining the radar facility five miles away from the airport and determined it was unreliable and couldn't be fixed.

"We were actually dropping targets, they're jumping, vanishing and altitudes are changing on us," Warren said.

Controllers, who have been spreading out traffic flying into the Coachella Valley 110 miles east of Los Angeles, have complained about close calls in the skies near the airport.

"Some missed between 100 to 300 feet," said Warren, who represents the 26 controllers at the airport. "It's the kind of separation that would get an air traffic controller suspended from duty.

"With radar at any one time we're talking to approximately 20 planes. In the non-radar situation, we're only talking to three or four planes, meaning 17 others are on their own."

Aircraft in the Palm Springs area must now stay 30 miles apart horizontally, the FAA said. The separation is normally three miles horizontally and 1,000 feet apart vertically.

Michael Lenick, the FAA manager of traffic for the airport, has said it was still safe to fly out of Palm Springs because controllers are trained in non-radar routing.

But Warren said the terminal's controllers are currently "blind" to any traffic below 8,000 feet, and they are maintaining most direction by sight and radio communication.

Lenick wouldn't discuss the arrival of the Marines, referring calls to FAA spokeswoman Kirsty Dunn at the agency's regional headquarters in Seattle.

"We are going to have a U.S. Marine Corps unit installed to supplement air traffic operations while the FAA evaluates the reliability of a replacement beacon," Dunn said.

That beacon, part of a secondary radar system, was expected to arrive late Friday and it will take several weeks to get it operational. The temporary military radar will be operational Monday.

"We want to assure the reliability of the replacement beacon, which is a more powerful beacon for the secondary system," Dunn said. "It boosts the radar's capability to overcome interference problems."

The FAA has refused to replace the failed primary system despite more than two years of complaints and repair attempts, Warren said.

A state-of-the-art system and control tower to replace the airport's 40-year-old facility would cost $30 million, he said.

Doyle Bordelon, spokesman for the FAA's national technical center, agreed earlier with Warren's assessment of the current Palm Springs radar.

"Mr. Warren is not out of line," Bordelon said. "We're working very closely, he's raising valid issues, and we're working as a team."

The FAA complains it doesn't have the money and Palm Springs is perceived as a small market that doesn't need a sophisticated system, the controllers union spokesman said. The airport handles 1.3 million passengers annually.

Radar was first installed in the Coachella Valley in 1979 after the air crash death of Frank Sinatra's mother, Dolly. Sinatra, who lived in Palm Springs, lobbied for the airport radar.

"It worked fine until they erected huge windmills that canceled out some of the radar returns," Warren said. "Targets were vanishing and dropping (off the radar).

"For $30 million we could provide the valley with the kind of safe air traffic enjoyed by every other metropolitan area in the country."

-- Lady Bug (Lady Bug@Bubble.Com), January 13, 2000.

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