ALL I want for Christmas is equipment that works. Am I asking too much?
After all, when I first transferred to O'Hare it didn't take me long to adjust to an ARTS tracking system that required controllers to place date blocks in hand-off status to keep them from dropping tags. And it didn't take me long to adjust to an ASR 7 radar site with target clarity so weak that if the beacon system failed we were rendered practically non radar save for those ARTS position symbols. And it didn't take me long to adjust to a radio system without any operating light bulbs to figure what key I was selecting. And it didn't take me long to locate all of the standby selectors for the radio frequencies that failed on a daily basis. And in no time at all, I became an expert at picking miniature ball bearings out of my lap when the drop tube'sspeed reducing, auto-stop, it won't go back up the tube on youbean bag broke. I even became an expert on the Sector 3 map misalignment to ARR and DPA so that when an aircraft showed a mile north of the final, I really knew he was dead centered on the localizer.
Maybe I am asking for too much! But, I'm promised, help is near.
In October 1996 we are scheduled to commission a brand new TRACON. We're told this building is "state of the art," "we've pulled out all the stops," "this baby will make controllers flock to O'Hare," "you'll be so happy you'll forget all about that 20% loss in pay." Now they're telling us that the previously scheduled IOC (Initial Operating Capability) of February 14, 1996 won't be quite so capable of operating. We're told, "we'll make up for it with some of the float we have in the schedule. After all, that date is really just a milestone, you weren't really going to work airplanes out of Elgin in February anyway."
Let's review some of the milestones:
The ARTS 3E is running; without many of the current functions we use today, but still running. The RDVS (voice switch) is installed in the ETG - inoperative, but installed. The RDVS for the TRACON is promised for a delivery before Christmas, but at this time it hasn't been tested at the factory yet, nor has the integration between the Tower and TRACON been completely engineered. The IDS 4 (informational display system) is installed, but waiting for the interface engineering to be completed for the continual updating of LLWAS, DASI, WX, RVR, - no wait, the FAA doesn't think they will allow RVR to be certified on the system so we'll have to add more of those Doppler Wx Radar, - no wait, the FAA isn't sure what they want TRACON's to do with that equipment, so back in the box with that. The AFDPS (electronic drop tubes) - good news - the TRACON printers work perfectly; - bad news - the Tower system isn't finished being engineered even though work began on this project two years ago. Not to worry, we should have a prototype available to test in January 96. (A finished product was previously promised us for September 1995.)
In all 11 of 19 equipment items are behind schedule in this project. Now. Project Managers are debating whether a commissioning in October 1996 is still realistic. But don't worry, with the equipment the controllers at O'Hare have had to use in the past, it appears we'll be more than comfortable with the latest batch of "it works most of the time" and "this is OK isn't it?"
The more things change, the more they stay the same!Happy Holidays!!! RT