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Radar Network for Air Traffic Control
February 1957 Radio & Television News Article

February 1957 Radio & TV News
February 1957 Radio & Television News Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio & Television News, published 1919-1959. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), born in 1940 and now known as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA, since 1958), was established originally to regulate the burgeoning commercial airline and cargo transport air traffic as well as the private aviation activity. According to an FAA document, on April 3, 1947, CAA controllers began in-service evaluations of the ground approach control (GCA) radar system at Washington National and Chicago Municipal airports. It was commissioned for official use by the CAA on January 7, 1952, at Washington National Airport. This story from a 1957 edition of Radio & Television News magazine reports on the system upgrade to long-range radars that would permit, eventually, continuous coverage across the entire USA.

Radar Network for Air Traffic Control

CAA orders 23 long-range radars in biggest single electronics gear purchase.

Radar operators scan skies on long-range radar - RF Cafe

Radar operators scan skies on long-range radar. Shown on the scope are air lanes connecting cities. Planes appear as light spots. Electronically projected map overlay enables the operator to pinpoint plane's position.

A major step in a sweeping plan for improvement of the nation's air traffic control system was taken recently, with announcement by the Civil Aeronautics Administration of an order for 23 long-range radars, biggest single purchase of electronic equipment in the agency's history.

The radars are the heart of a CAA plan announced last April by Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks. The plan is designed to handle a fourfold increase in U. S. air traffic with minimum delay and maximum safety. The new radars will help CAA controllers accomplish this by scanning the skies for all aircraft up to 200 miles away, depending on size and altitude.

Raytheon Manufacturing Co. of Waltham, Mass., will design and build the equipment, which will cost approximately $9,000,000. Deliveries will begin this summer.

The 23 radars will be part of an expanding coast-to-coast traffic control network of more than 70 civil and military radar installations. The network will give controllers a picture of aircraft from 15,000 to 70,000 feet in virtually all the U. S. airspace, and of aircraft at lower altitudes on densely traveled routes. Thus, radar will serve to track the civil and military jets which move at 600 miles an hour or more in the higher altitudes, and the conventional aircraft traffic using the lower altitudes.

Giant 40·foot search antenna to be used with the new radars - RF Cafe

Giant 40·foot search antenna to be used with the new radars. This antenna will be equally effective for jet operation at 35,000 feet and higher or for low-altitude slower aircraft.

Each radar uses a large 40-foot antenna, and effectively covers more than 125,000 square miles of area. A single set will be able to feed up to 15 different monitor screens simultaneously, so that each controller on duty in a CAA center can have a picture of traffic movement. At present, with the exception of the radar-equipped New York and Washington centers, CAA controllers depend on position reports radioed in by pilots en route. CAA also has radar for surveillance around 34 airports, which will continue to serve traffic within a range up to 30 miles.

The new equipment employs either linear or circular polarization of the radar signal so as to minimize the effect of rain or other bad weather interference. Another feature is an improved moving target indication arrangement that removes radar echoes from fixed objects, thereby allowing signals from moving aircraft to show up clearly.

CChances of breakdown are reduced because of the use of dual controls and functioning parts, allowing uninterrupted operations.

New radars are to be installed at 23 of the 28 heavily circled areas - RF Cafe

New radars are to be installed at 23 of the 28 heavily circled areas

shown below. Remaining 5 areas will use military gear. Light

circles show future coverage.



Posted October 22, 2021
(updated from original post on 7/15/2013)

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