New radar installation completed at airport
A new long range radar at the LF Wade International Airport has now been successfully installed after encountering some “unforeseen challenges”, Government said today.
It had been hoped the work would have been finished last month but scheduling and technical issues surrounding the certification of the radar, together with the availability of additional replacement parts required to complete the project pushed back the completion date.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was responsible for the project, which means Bermuda now has enhanced, and modernised radar capability that will increase the area of surveillance from 180 miles to 220 miles.
“This will assist the FAA in providing safer and more efficient air traffic management services for Bermuda-bound and en route traffic over the North Atlantic,” said airport General Manager, Aaron Adderley,
The time taken by the FAA to complete the installation left some challenges for Bermuda to overcome, but there were no options available to the Government and Airport Operations officials to expedite its completion, according to Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell. He said: “The radar is owned by the US and whilst Bermuda has a partner agreement in place whereby we provide technical maintenance support for FAA assets at the airport, for a large scale project like this, the FAA has to provide its own manpower and resources. This essentially means that we are subject to their timetable.”
He added that Bermudian technicians from BAS-Serco and local contractors, B&B Fibre Tech, worked extremely long hours and were able to complete Bermuda's portion of the project on schedule.
Government first entered into a Memorandum of Cooperation agreement with the FAA in 1995 when the airport was handed over to Bermuda by the departing US Navy. The agreement calls for the FAA to place its radar and other equipment at LF Wade and in return, Bermuda Airport Operations provides the radar surveillance data to FAA Air Traffic Controllers based in New York, who then provide air traffic management services to aircraft flying through Bermuda's airspace.
“While the work has been taking place over the past few months, the airport has been operating under standard, non-radar procedures which call for greater time separation between flights,” said Mr Crockwell.
“This led to several departure delays which resulted in missed flight connections for some passengers. This is not good. We want to extend our apologies to those affected. Certainly, we would have liked to have returned to normal operations a lot sooner.”
In an effort to minimise the delays for commercial airline passengers, airport officials had to limit corporate and private jet flights during the peak afternoon period.
“The private aviation community and our airline partners have been very patient and understanding with the amount of time this project has taken and they appreciate that it was beyond our control,” said Mr Adderley.
Mr Crockwell said FAA officials were on-Island this month meeting with Airport Operations to discuss the further enhancement of the partnership agreement and identify ways that would help avoid delays in future FAA-led projects.