The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

July 12, 2013

High-tech air traffic control

It’s going to be an exciting time for the Raleigh County Memorial Airport over the next few weeks.

As Boy Scouts descend into West Virginia for next week’s National Jamboree, many will land there, from areas all over the United States.

There is an expected onslaught on air traffic, greatly more than a typical summer would present. Support staff, including volunteers and National Guard troops, along with Scout families and tourists will also be utilizing the airport.

Adding to the excitement is the a technology that is about to be tested at the airport — a virtual air control tower.

With it, the airport coould very well be on the cutting edge of technology.

The Federal Aviation Administration had looked to close 150 air-traffic control towers due to budget cuts. But the FAA is scheduled to have an engineer from its research center in town for three days to witness the virtual tower at work.

During the test, there will be an FAA-trained, certified air traffic controller sitting in this room as well, to witness the feat.

Quadrex Aviation LLC of Melbourne, Fla., is under a $50,000 contract with the Raleigh County Airport authority to perform research in a project that could cost upwards of $3 million. If the research proves doable, the next step in the long process is to gain a 90 percent match from the FAA.

An airport the size of Raleigh Memorial could have found its way on the endangered list.

But undaunted, Raleigh forged ahead with a plan to implement this new technology that could not only save jobs, but provide for safer air travel.

Our hope is that the FAA sees the benefits of the virtual tower — and will recognize the role that Raleigh County Memorial Airport played in its implementation.

Being prepared certainly helped our airport in this matter.

That, appropriately, is very Scout-like.

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