FAA Does Nothing as Private Contractor Allows Little Rock Radar Feed Disruption

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS) today expressed serious concern about the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) indifference toward fixing a problem caused by a private contractor that has resulted in nightly disruptions of information fed into Little Rock National Airport coming from its long-range radars.

Part of the FAA’s Federal Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI), the three remote long-range radars send information to Little Rock using the Harris/Raytheon communications circuitry. Little Rock currently relies on these radars for information as backup in the event the Little Rock primary radar fails. However, a circuitry failure within the only FTI line has crashed the system for 20 seconds every night since Thanksgiving.

“Responsibility for this serious problem ultimately falls on the FAA,” said Dave Spero, PASS regional vice president. “The agency has a duty to demand private contractors meet the same rigorous standards expected of federal employees. For months, FAA employees have been working tirelessly – with no help from Harris – to find a way to fix a problem that they did not create.”

PASS members have been working to get this long-overdue problem fixed and now air traffic controllers are starting to express frustration with Harris’ lack of urgency in addressing the matter.

“Planes can move a long distance in as little as five seconds, so losing an aircraft for 20 seconds is not a trivial matter,” said Spero. “The reliability and efficiency of these radar systems is vital to the safety of air travel. This is just another example of the FAA cutting corners on safety.”

Previous loss of radar operations throughout the FTI were caused by the botched transition of service from previous service provider MCI to Harris/Raytheon. But the problem remains today, even after the transition of private contractors has been completed.

“Our members and the air traffic controllers seem to be the only people concerned about potentially losing radar contact with airplanes for 20 seconds,” said Spero. “The FAA has continued to overlook this problem and failed to respond adequately for months after the initial radar crashes. The FAA must act immediately to fix this problem.”


PASS represents more than 11,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense who install, maintain, support and certify air traffic control and national defense equipment, inspect and oversee the commercial and general aviation industries, develop flight procedures and perform quality analyses of the aviation systems. For more information, visit the PASS website at www.passnational.org.

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