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RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — A new computer program will give air traffic controllers and pilots a more accurate “roadmap of the sky,” thanks to the first software upgrade in 20 years.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe Terminal Instrument Procedures specialists — who provide terrain models and map out obstacles for pilots approaching airfields — just completed a two-week training program in the new system, said Capt. Mack Coker, commander of the USAFE Air Procedures Flight.

The USAFE specialists develop the flight books used by pilots to navigate into airfields in the European Command and Central Command areas of operation.

The old computer program allowed the specialists to account for up to 10,000 obstacles — such as radio and electrical towers — in a 100 nautical-mile area. The new program allows them to account for 23 million obstacles in the same area.

The new system allows the airmen to look at an airfield with a 3-D perspective, so they can see whether a tower or other obstacle would interfere with an aircraft approach.

The program was developed by the Canadian company MacDonald Dettwiller.

The new system will be up and running in about two weeks, he said. The airmen also have to re-create about 875 aircraft approach procedures for the regions they cover, using the new program, said Master Sgt. John Figgins, noncommissioned officer in charge of the flight.

It also allows them to build in international civil aviation requirements — especially important as Ramstein begins accepting flights from Rhein-Main Air Base next year. Under the terms of that transition, the Air Force must abide by the international civil aviation standards, Figgins said.


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