Airport Movement Area Safety System

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The Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) visually and aurally prompts tower controllers to respond to situations which potentially compromise safety. AMASS is an add-on enhancement to the host Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model 3 (ASDE-3) radar that provides automated aural alerts to potential runway incursions and other hazards. AMASS extends the capability of the ASDE-3 and enhances surface movement safety.

The system operates with ground and approach sensor systems to ascertain aircraft locations in approaching and ground movement situations. It uses airport radars, state-of-the-art signal processing, and advanced computer technology to improve airport safety.

In this program, 40 systems were to be delivered to the Federal Aviation Administration. AMASS is manufactured by Northrop Grumman Corporation.[1]

Pittsburgh International Airport was chosen by the FAA for the first installation of the system starting on February 14, 1990 and being completed by October of that year. Part of the administration's decision was because the tallest FAA owned control tower (at 220 feet) was in Pittsburgh.[2] By the 4th quarter of 1992 the AMASS system had been installed at such fields as San Francisco International Airport.[3] However, the program came in for increasing criticism for being over-budget and behind schedule, with not a single unit being operational by the deadline (for installing 40 units) of August 2000.[4] Software development issues and system adoption were mentioned as the key issues with the system. Finally, the first operational AMASS system was commissioned at San Francisco International Airport on June 18, 2001.[5] By December 2003 all 40 systems were commissioned by the Federal Avaiation Administration.

AMASS was demonstrated to work as designed in the near-collision of SkyWest Airlines flight 5741 and Republic Airlines flight 4912, when it alerted the ATC 15 seconds prior to the estimated impact.[6]

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