Pilots flying out of North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field may soon have the support of radar services guiding traffic. Airport officials estimated the airport could see radar services as early as late summer or early fall, bringing a long-time goal for organizers to fruition.
Radar has been a recurring topic for airport officials as both a safety concern and potential driver for development at growth.
“We are making progress on this radar,” NTRA manager Bob Torti said during a recent meeting of the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority. “It is moving along nicely.”
Radar service was discussed by the RMA in February, when officials said the technology has become increasingly necessary due to the high number of operations that are conducted at the airport each year. Torti said the airport is currently positioned to see about 68,000 operations this year, with the US Aviation Flight School making up a large portion of these flights.
Aside from the number of operations, Torti said other factors helped NTRA in its case for radar service. Many aircraft approaching or departing from busy airports in the Metroplex fly through NTRA’s airspace. Being able to see these aircraft would benefit operations locally as controllers attempt to route local traffic, he said.
During the February meeting, consultants said there were some hurdles that could arise that would prevent the service from coming to NTRA. Among these concerns were worries that service provided from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex would not reach low enough to catch the typical air patterns around Texoma. Other concerns were related to the direct infrastructure that would allow the radar information to be transmitted from the Metroplex to NTRA.
Torti said the services that would likely be available to NTRA would reach about 250 feet below the standard flight patterns that the airport sees, alleviating that concern. Torti added he believes the infrastructure to transmit the data to the airport does exist and is already in place.
The services that would be available to the airport would come from Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System technology, commonly known as STARS. Torti said this technology is currently being put in place to replace aging forms of radar technology and it is easier to operate with “less moving parts.”
“Basically, it is like computers were like 20 years ago and what they are now,” he said.
Torti said the odds of the airport was added to radar services was increased as it has a direct phone connection to radar services in the Metroplex. Through this, traffic controllers on both sides will only need to pick up a phone to connect with each other in the event of an emergency or other traffic concerns.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @mhutchinsHD on Twitter.