More Money For More STARS

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While many air traffic controllers are still working with 1970s-era screens that are inferior to what you get today on a giveaway cellphone, the government has come up with another $57 million to continue deployment of the delay-plagued color-display Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, or STARS. That's enough for 14 FAA systems, plus nine more for the Department of Defense. The FAA originally budgeted $940 million to upgrade 172 sites, and last year cut that down to 47 sites at a cost of $1.46 billion. Thirty-one FAA and 21 DoD sites are currently controlling air traffic with STARS. The condition of aging displays at Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis and St. Louis "has become critical," a report by the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General said last December. Controller displays at Denver are locking up randomly, at a rate of a little over once a week. A report last year by the Government Accountability Office found that the FAA's troubles with getting STARS online were a result of its own failures in management of the project.