A radar system will begin operating at the Chandler Municipal Airport today, offering air traffic controllers a perspective they did not have before while guiding planes by sight only.
"They’ll be able to see real time weather radar superimposed on the screen with the aircraft, for example," said Greg Chenoweth, airport manager, citing one of the many benefits.
The radar system will enable controllers to better communicate with aircraft and better manage the flow of aircraft, Chenoweth said.
"By giving the controllers that extra bit of information, they can better control and advise aircraft in Chandler airspace," Chenoweth said.
"Since we’re about the 60th busiest airport in the nation, radar was something that was very important for us to have out here," he added. "From the aviation safety aspect, the air traffic controllers were getting so much traffic and they were doing a good job, but this gives them an extra tool. Now they can see what’s out there on radar before they can get a visual reference on it."
Steve Hover, tower manager for Chandler Municipal Airport, said the digital radar system installed by the Federal Aviation Administration is known as DBrite.
"It lets us know where aircraft are further out from the airport than a visual allows us to see," Hover said. "Before we could only see airplanes with our eyes and with binoculars and this extends our vision of airplanes."
Hover said the system also will help control the flow of aircraft in and out of the airport.
"It helps us to sequence aircraft further away from the airport," Hover said. "That’s one of the main things we do is space and sequence aircraft."
The radar also will better equip the tower to direct lost pilots.
Chenoweth said the radar images being used by the Chandler airport are generated at Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa.
The information is digitalized, sent to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and is then received by the airport in Chandler.
The city paid $20,000 for upgrades to the tower in preparation for the equipment, Chenoweth said. The FAA provided the rest of the equipment.