WASHINGTON – Faced with mounting criticism over National Airport’s aging radar system, the government said Thursday it will install a new computerized radar system by next June – 2 1/2 years ahead of schedule.
In the meantime, existing radar scopes will be refurbished as a temporary remedy, said Federal Aviation Administrator Jane Garvey.
Garvey said she does not think passenger safety has been compromised during dozens of radar outages at National Airport in recent months, but added “there’s always the possibility that without an immediate remedy, there might be some danger to the public.”
The announcement came following a Capitol Hill meeting between the FAA chief and Rep. Constance Morella, R-Montgomery, who heads a House subcommittee with oversight over the agency.
Morella had been pushing the FAA to move up the schedule for replacing National Airport’s 25-year-old radar system. Nationwide, 173 facilities are scheduled to receive upgraded radar equipment.
National Airport has experienced nearly four dozen radar problems since April. The most recent occurred on Aug. 29, said FAA spokesman Fraser Jones.
Backup systems are available, including a phone link to connect to the radar system at Andrews Air Force Base.