Garfield County Airport will have high-tech control system |

Garfield County Airport will have high-tech control system

Donna GrayGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. The Garfield County Airport will soon have a solution to air traffic jams during the winter season. The Colorado Department of Transportation announced this week it will provide a radar-like system that will allow the airport to handle double its current airplane traffic. The Colorado Air Traffic Control Beacon Interrogator Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast System will allow airplanes to report their position directly to the Federal Aviation Administration Denver Traffic Control Center in Longmont.The new system acts like radar but is much less expensive. Radar typically costs $7 million. The new system will be made up of sensors about the size of a small refrigerator that will be placed around the airport. They use radio signals to determine an aircraft’s position and report it to the FAA Denver Center, which will route traffic into and out of the airport.The system will be especially welcome during the winter months when visitors fly in for skiing, sometimes during snowstorms.”When bad weather happens, Denver Center controls all traffic in and out of the region,” said county airport manager Brian Condie. However, the center cannot pick up planes below 10,000 feet in elevation. The new system “will allow Denver to see aircraft all the way to the ground.”Currently, airplanes are spaced 15 minutes apart during the busy season. “With the (new system) system the window will be six minutes,” he said. “That will more than double the capacity at the airport.”Rifle, Hayden, Steamboat Springs and Craig will receive the “interrogators” first, followed by Montrose, Telluride, Gunnison, Cortez, Durango and Alamosa. The systems will be installed before the 2008 ski season, according to CDOT, at a total cost of $15 million for all these locations. CDOT, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Routt and Garfield counties are contributing to the $4.7 million cost of the first phase.Condie said the technology is not new, and has been used at remote airports in Alaska. “The system is tried and proven,” Condie said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 16605dgray@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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