Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ellsworth officials launch digital ASR

Staff Sgt. Jacob Martin views a radar scope Oct. 14, 2009, at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. The base recently switched from airport surveillance radar to digital airport surveillance radar. Sergeant Martin is a 28th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Corey Hook)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. (AFNS) -- Ellsworth Air Force Base officials recently completed the installation of a digital airport surveillance radar system to be used with the Dakota Air Traffic Control Facility here.

This modern, digital radar replaces traditional airport-surveillance radar used by air traffic controllers, eliminates ground distractions and displays multiple levels of precipitation.

The new system also helps address maintenance and parts challenges, while increasing Ellsworth AFB capabilities to control more airspace in Rapid City and other locations in South Dakota, said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Lavoie, the 28th Operations Support Squadron radar approach control facilities chief controller.

"This is the first Air Force DASR to be located outside of the military installation," Chief Lavoie said. "This location provides us with line of sight to the runways at both airports and provides us with a clearer digital presentation which reduces our maintenance team's workload on a daily basis."

The system does this by automatically transmitting digital radar to the standard terminal automation replacement system. This process eliminates the electronic conversion that was necessary when using traditional airport surveillance radar signals, and decreases the amount of time used to convert an electronic signal into a digital signal.

Along with these advantages, the new system allows Ellsworth AFB air traffic controllers to work more efficiently with Rapid City Regional Airport.

"The old radar wouldn't be able to see aircraft landing at Rapid City Regional Airport," said Airman 1st Class Ryan Anger, a 28th OSS air traffic controller. "The DASR provides a larger range of scope and can actually see airplanes landing at Rapid City Regional and picks-up echoes from aircraft farther away."

This two year project involved members from 28th OSS, 28th Communications Squadron, 28th Civil Engineer Squadron and contractors.

"The implementation of the DASR is landmark for us as controllers," Chief Lavoie said. "We have lived with 1960s technology until today and our controller force now has state-of-the-art equipment to provide the safest air traffic control service possible to our military and civilian flying communities."