Air traffic controllers at the Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center unveiled a new computer system Thursday that is 10 times faster than previous systems and has five times the information storage capacity.
Built by IBM, the computer system has been set up in the Federal Aviation Administration center at 2150 W. Seventh North. The center is the last of 20 domestic en route control centers to utilize the new system.FAA Administrator T. Allan McArtor, who participated in an open house at the center, called the changeover to the new computer system a major step in the implementation of the FAA's National Airspace System Plan for modernizing the nation's air traffic control and air navigation system.
"The new IBM computers will allow the air traffic control system to keep pace with projected traffic growth over the next decade and accommodate the introduction of new automation functions that will both enhance safety and increase controller productivity," he said.
One example of the improvement, he explained, is an upgrading of the present conflict alert package for detecting potential midair collisions.
In addition to the new computer system, the FAA is also providing air traffic control centers with an advanced automation system, advanced new landing systems, new primary and secondary radar systems, automated flight service stations and new, upgraded weather services to pilots.
The Salt Lake air traffic control center services an area of 361,500 square miles of airspace in Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and parts of Oregon, Nevada and North and South Dakota.
Last year, the center handled 1,084,550 air traffic operations. This year, operations are running about 4.6 percent above that figure, FAA officials said.