FAA says all critical components of U.S. air traffic control ready for Y2K
Officials cite possible snags in baggage handling, airport services
March 4, 1999
Web posted at: 4:20 p.m. EDT (1620 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- All critical components of the air traffic control
system -- responsible for controlling 75,000 flights a day nationwide -- have
been adjusted for the year 2000, federal aviation officials said Thursday.
The officials sought to assure the public that air travel will be safe in
the United States at the turn of the century.
The Y2K problem is caused by the inability of computers to distinguish
between the year 2000 and the year 1900.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it had made repairs to 65 systems
involved in air traffic control. Of those 65 air traffic control systems, 57 (88 percent) have successfully
passed tests to ensure their safety, and the remaining systems are "on track"
to be tested by a March 31 deadline, FAA's Ray Long said.
But air travelers could experience other problems stemming from the
so-called Y2K bug but unrelated to air traffic control, Long said.
"The impact could be more on the infrastructure -- how you get to and from
the airport," he said.
Travelers could also experience other problems -- such as baggage handling
back-ups -- if those systems are not checked and corrected by individual
airports, he said.
Power failures, if any, would not affect air traffic control operations, he
said. "We have power failures today and it's seamless to the controllers
because generators kick in and provide power."
FAA officials say they are conducting tests of FAA computers that interact
with other systems, and the FAA needs to "make sure that data is properly
transmitted through these interfaces."
In order to demonstrate their confidence in the U.S. air traffic system,
Long and FAA Administrator Jane Garvey say they plan to fly across the country
on a commercial airliner on January 1.
Of greater concern to the FAA -- the air traffic control systems of other
The FAA is conducting tests with the top six international destinations of
U.S. flyers -- Canada, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the Bahamas and the
Dominican Republic. And both the FAA and international aviation organizations
are working with other nations in an effort to bring them to Y2K compliance.