Business & GA, Commercial

Anchorage ATOP Operational

By Tish Drake | April 6, 2007
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The FAA completed final implementation of Technologies and Oceanic Procedures (ATOP) at the Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center, a move it says will allow aircraft flying over the North Pacific Ocean to fly more direct routes and save fuel. The Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center in Alaska, the last of three FAA sites transitioning to ATOP, completed its transition in March. The Lockheed Martin-developed system enables controllers to safely separate aircraft in areas outside radar coverage or direct radio communication, such as over oceans. It detects conflicts between aircraft and provides satellite data link communication and position information to air traffic controllers. “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 C. Blakey. FAA and Lockheed Martin say ATOP reduces the manual process that has limited the controllers’ flexibility to safely handle airline requests for more efficient tracks over long oceanic routes. It also reduces the workload on controllers through the use of electronic flight strips instead of the labor-intensive paper strip method previously used to track trans-oceanic aircraft. More direct communication and reduced controller workload will eventually enable reduced horizontal separation between aircraft from 100 nautical miles (nm) to 30 nm. With greater transoceanic capacity, more aircraft will be able to fly preferred routes. ATOP has already been deployed at FAA centers in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., and Oakland, Calif., providing air traffic service over the Atlantic and Pacific regions.

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