Technological Advances Keep Complex Bay Area Airports Safe

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US Federal Aviation Administration logo over Air traffic controller radar screen (AP)

US Federal Aviation Administration logo over Air traffic controller radar screen (AP)

MargieShafer20100909_KCBS_0346r Margie Shafer
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OAKLAND (KCBS) – Oakland International Airport showed off the latest technology being used to keep the skies safe Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Air traffic controlling has come a long way since 1936, when flags were being used to signal planes to land and take off. Now, at the FAA’s offices at Oakland International, large screens provide trainees with a replica of both OAK and SFO.

“The scenarios have the flexibility for all different types of weather, all different traffic conditions and volumes, as well as emergency conditions and new developments at the airport,” said Golden Gate District manager at the FAA Andy Richards.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

For example, at SFO, controllers keep an eye on four runways, two north and two south, which all intersect in the middle.

“What you’re seeing here, 75 years later, is an incredible modernization of the air traffic system, and simulation tools to train air traffic control specialists,” said Richards, who adds that there are about 50 takeoffs and 50 landings each hour at SFO.

Trainees issue commands to aircrafts, while remote pilot operators use a computer to respond to the trainees commands with a playback feature allowing for review and evaluation.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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