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Friday, June 7, 2013

Alaska Gets Updated Aviation Weather Broadcast System

By Woodrow Bellamy III

Alaska's FAA flight service stations have been upgraded to improve automated recordings and broadcasting of in-flight weather information for pilots flying in one of the more severe climates of the United States. 
 
 
(Fairbanks Flight Service Facility in Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo, courtesy of STR-SpeechTech Ltd.)
 
Victoria, Canada-based STR-SpeechTech Ltd. provided the upgrades, a "technical refresh" for its StarCaster Transcribed Weather Broadcast System (TWEB) located at flight service stations in Juneau, Fairbanks and Kenai, Alaska. The upgrades provided a complete replacement of the original system from a single workstation Windows PC computer format to a dual hot-standby server design. 
 
FAA purchased the original TWEB system in 2004, which featured a single Windows PC workstation, providing audio output to pilot's VHF radio transmitters and a user interface for the FAA personnel monitoring the system. Under the new format, each flight service station features two server computers, generating TWEB weather broadcasts and STR's text-to-speech technology. 
 
The problem with the original single PC format was the risk of a loss of service information when the computers would freeze or stop working, according to Stephen Eady, project director at STR, who installed the new system. 
 
 
(Starcaster Server Rack at Fairbanks Flight Service Station. Photo, courtesy of STR.)
 
"The new configuration (called Dual Hot-Standby), consists of two server computers, which are operational at all times. One server computer is active and is generating the TWEB broadcasts and TIBS recordings. The other server computer is standby. If the active computer fails, the standby computer immediately takes over as Active," said Eady. 
 
The new system went live in May. 
 

 

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