FAA's new air traffic system hits turbulence

By JOAN LOWY | October 5, 2011 | 3:35 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog says a program to modernize the nation's air traffic control system has run into serious problems that threaten to increase its cost and delay its completion.

Calvin Scovel, the Transportation Department's inspector general, said in prepared testimony to be delivered at House hearing Wednesday that the Federal Aviation Administration's program to replace the current air traffic control system with a system based on satellite technology is being held back by software problems that have plagued the equipment controllers use to track aircraft.

Scovel also said the agency is discouraging airlines' support for the program by not setting clear deadlines for when benefits of the program will be achieved.

The Associated Press was provided with a copy of Scovel's testimony.

FAA officials had no immediate comment.