FAA To Install New Anti-Incursion Gear

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The FAA will install new runway-incursion warning systems called Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model X (ASDE-X) at 15 large airports, starting in January, to replace the sometimes unreliable Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) now in use. "Reducing the risk of runway incursions is one of our top safety initiatives," FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey said in a statement. Although the U.S. hasn't had a serious incursion accident in recent years, there have been some highly publicized near-collisions in Boston, Los Angeles and New York. In some cases, the mishaps occurred because controllers had turned the AMASS off to stop all the false returns it emitted in bad weather. NATCA President John Carr said the new technology is "long overdue." The FAA moved up its announcement of the initiative to moot a news conference held by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association on the subject. ASDE-X combines radar and transponders to paint a constantly updated picture of surface activity. Each system costs $8.5 million and some airports will need two. The deployment begins in Seattle (if you've been to Seattle in January, you'll understand) but the FAA isn't saying how long it will take to install the others, only that it will be done "soon." ASDE-X was designed for smaller airports and has been in use at Milwaukee, Hobby Airport in Houston, Providence and Orlando for two years.