Boston’s Logan Airport Radar Puts Traveling Public At Risk <


Bookmark and Share


Boston’s Logan Airport Radar Puts Traveling Public At Risk

By Mike Mitchell

February 23, 2010 - The FAA places its traveling passengers, pilots and crews and air traffic controllers in harms way at Boston’s Logan Airport in what the FAA believed was enhancing its aircraft separation radar system. Back in 2009, the FAA upgraded Boston’s Logan Airport aircraft separation radar system from Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) to Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE-X). 

ASDE-X is an airport surface traffic management radar system that was designed to provide air traffic controllers with exact ground traffic location of aircraft, airport vehicles, people, etc. ASDE-X data information is provided on radar screens that controllers can view in the tower.


ASDE-X, when properly working is an ideal tool for air traffic controllers to use for ground traffic management information especially on days when the visibility is to low for controllers to see outside the control tower windows, or on ground traffic location that controllers can’t see visually on the airfield due to some kind off obstruction such as a building (s). 

There are two inherent problems with ASDE-X at Logan Airport. The system is giving a number of false target reports. This is a target that is showing on the radar and in reality there is nothing out there. The second, the system is giving false collision reports from vehicles in which the system is showing they are headed for the runway when they are actually stationary, not moving at all.

This may be due to ASDE-X being located on the top of the control tower, the signals emitted from ASDE-X bounces off tall airport buildings providing controllers with false airport traffic information as well ground sensors that maybe faulty or loacted in wrong locations at the airport. 

Matt McCluskey an air traffic controller at Boston Logan Airport and president of the Boston chapter of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association stated that a number of air traffic controllers have complained about the radar system and their confidence level is very low with this equipment. Controllers feel that the system should have been tested first along side the old system.

“We have motor vehicles moving around the airport all the time. In the winter time we have snowplows plowing runways and taxi ways. Controllers are in contact with these vehicles at all times making sure they are clear of landing, takeoff and taxiing aircraft. However, we are constantly getting “false target” hits from ASDE-X. For example you've cleared an aircraft for takeoff. The aircraft begins rolling down the runway, it’s at rotation speed ready to takeoff and all of a sudden a false target appears on your screen that a vehicle is out there on the runway in front of this aircraft and there is nothing you can do. ASDE-X system continuously provides air traffic controllers with several daily false targets”. 


McCluskey also indicated that there are numerous events in which aircraft that have landed at Logan, from the threshold to about 2,000 feet while taxiing that is not being picked up by ASDE-X. “The system is supposed to proved traffic awareness and separation information.” When asked what can been done to correct the problem McCluskey suggest that all airport vehicles should have transponders place on them as this would prevent any fails readings. When asked about relocating ASDE-X from the top of the tower, McCluskey stated that a fix to the false targets might be relocating the radar from the top of the cab to a location out on the airport as this problem worked at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News                                          Bookmark and Share


AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator