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Mineta helps unveil air traffic control technology

MILWAUKEE, WI – U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta Monday (Feb. 9) visited Mitchell International Airport to introduce its new air traffic control technology and reiterate the Administration’s commitment to improvements aimed at reducing airspace congestion nationwide.

During a visit to the airport’s air traffic control facility, the Secretary said that Mitchell International is the nation’s first airport to use a new runway safety tool known as the Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model-X (ASDE-X) system that will help reduce costly air traffic delays and maximize safety for passengers traveling into and out of the airport.

“If planes don’t move because of bad weather or congestion, the economy doesn’t move – and that is unacceptable.

That’s why this Administration is committed to strengthening and improving the capacity of our airspace to avoid gridlock and keep our economy strong,” Secretary Mineta said.

The Secretary said the President’s recently announced FY 2005 budget for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) makes a modern and efficient system a key priority.

This year, the President’s budget will support $3.3 billion in grants for airport capacity, safety and environmental improvements, as well as $700 million in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds for investments in new technologies and runways to prevent gridlock in the skies, he said.

ASDE-X creates a complete, up-to-the-minute map of all airport operations that controllers use to spot potential collisions and ensure aviation safety on the ground, and is especially helpful to controllers at night or in bad weather when visibility is poor.

The airport also recently introduced new, digital color radar technology called the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS).

“This important new technology will help minimize costly air traffic delays and maximize safety for passengers at Mitchell International,” said Secretary Mineta. “A strong economy depends on a strong aviation system.”

This year, the Department of Transportation will deploy ASDE-X at four other major airports in Orlando; St. Louis; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Providence, Rhode Island, with 12 more installations planned in Fiscal Year 2005. And, in the next two years, the Department expects to bring STARS to 16 more airports around the country.

“The work being accomplished in Milwaukee reflects the Administration’s commitment to modernization efforts across the country,” he said. “We are harnessing technology and converting it into more usable capacity in the airspace system.”