Backup radar systems at Baltimore-Washington International Airport performed "exceptionally well" in tests yesterday, according to a senior air traffic controller, who said problems appear to have been largely corrected after two major failures in recent months.
The two backup systems were tested for an hour beginning at 9:30 a.m. during a period of heavy weekday traffic to better measure radar performance, said Rockton Thurman, a senior BWI controller and head of the local National Air Traffic Controller's Association.
FOR THE RECORD - An article in the Maryland section Tuesday gave an incorrect location for review of data from a test Monday of backup radar systems at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The data will be reviewed in Atlantic City, N.J., by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Sun regrets the error.
The backup radar systems were able to detect aircraft 50 miles south of Baltimore at altitudes as low as 2,500 feet, said Thurman. During their failures in August and November, the positions of hundreds of flights disappeared from the screens.
"This is a major improvement," said Thurman. "There were still some places where it was dropping some aircraft, but it was in places where we would expect it, and we can work with that."
The only questions raised by the tests had to do with a few westbound aircraft that disappeared from the screen briefly, he said.
Officials at the Maryland Department of Transportation said they were awaiting an assessment from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is sending the test results to Atlanta for analysis.
The FAA searched last month for the cause of the failures and discovered a programming error that interfered with the transmission of data from a radar feed at the Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center in Leesburg, Va.