Upgraded air traffic control technology hits speed bump

Posted by Mike Luttrell

Significant problems have forced the US Transportation Department to take a step back from upgrading its highly outdated air traffic control system.

It seems like everything that could be going wrong is going wrong. The Associated Press reports that Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel gave an update on the process to a House subcommittee on Wednesday.

Scovel said that the new system occasionally misidentified aircraft, had difficulty processing radar details, and could not properly transfer information to other air traffic controllers.

It's a disappointing report about the massive $2.1 billion computer system that is supposed to improve flight monitoring across US airspace, and will hopefully ultimately used by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The problems underline the reason that the FAA system, which in some cases is using technology that's more than 30 years old, is so resistant to upgrades or modifications. One glitch could have monumental consequences.

The new system would replace the archaic radar tracking with new, enhanced GPS technology. The government wants the old ATC computers replaced as soon as possible, but problems like this will cause indefinite delays.