The Federal Aviation Authority plans to introduce the Wide-Area Multilateration system. The system lets controllers see aircraft in mountainous regions they could not see before because of rugged terrain.
"As aircraft approach a mountain valley, we have sensors that are located throughout the valleys, next to the runways, which allows us to see the aircraft as it descends and loses traditional radar service," Travis Vallin, Director of Aeronautics with the Colorado Department of Transportation, said.
The FAA says the new system will both improve air safety and efficiency while saving time and money for passengers and operators.
Vallin says last year at the airport servicing Steamboat Springs, planes with a combined 700 passengers had to be turned away under the traditional radar service. He says that cost the area a significant amount of revenue.
The deployment of the system is covered by a cost-sharing agreement with the FAA and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The program initially launched on Sept. 12 at Yampa Valley-Hayden, Craig-Moffat, Steamboat Springs and Garfield County Regional-Rifle Airports.
The FAA says radar coverage in those areas is virtually impossible because radar signals cannot pass through solid objects.
"It's not only the first time it's been done here, it's the first time it's been rolled out in the United States," Vallin said. "So, Colorado is a leader in this technology, and we hope to put it to good use."
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