STARS Brighter Than Thought

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STARS is brightening the lives of controllers all over the country, and not just in the handful of places AVweb and several other media outlets mentioned in stories last week. The Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System has been installed in 13 airports since the successful full deployment of the system in Philadelphia last June. "We got a lot of systems out last year," Rebecca Trexler, of FAA Public Affairs, told AVweb. Two prototype systems in Syracuse and El Paso were also upgraded to full deployments, bringing the total number of STARS systems in use to 16. Trexler said there are plans to install at least 16 more systems this year and another 10 in 2005. Although the program seems to be up and running, now, it's been a long, controversial and expensive road. The ultimate cost of putting the system in all 167 sites planned for its use is now $1.69 billion, almost double the original estimate. Still, the system has firm government support. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta claims it's essential to the government's plan to triple access to the National Airspace System asnd the FAA calls it "the centerpiece of FAA's modernization of the national air traffic system."