FAA Improves Polar Oceanic Routes

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Aircraft crossing the Arctic Ocean can now fly more direct routes, save fuel and achieve better on-time performance, the FAA said this week. The Alaska Air Route Traffic Control Center has completed the installation of Advanced Technologies and Oceanic Procedures (ATOP). The technology enables controllers to safely separate aircraft in areas outside radar coverage or direct radio communication. The system has already been deployed at FAA centers in New York and California to provide enhanced air traffic service over the Atlantic and Pacific. "As we move toward the Next Generation Air Transportation System, we will continue to introduce procedures and technologies that help system users better serve their customers while maintaining the highest levels of safety," said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. ATOP detects conflicts between aircraft and provides satellite data link communication and position information to air traffic controllers. With greater transoceanic capacity, more aircraft will be able to fly preferred routes, the FAA said.