American Society of Civil Engineers

Procedural and Operational Consequences of Navigational Equipment Outages: Exploration of Airport Performance

by Jasenka Rakas, (corresponding author), M.ASCE, (Res. Engr., Natl. Ctr. of Excellence for Aviation Operations Res. (NEXTOR), Univ. of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720 E-mail:, Huifang Yin, (Grad. Res. Asst., Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., NEXTOR, Univ. of Califonia Berkely, Berkely, CA 94720. E-mail:, and Mark Hansen, (Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., NEXTOR, Univ. of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720. E-mail:

Journal of Transportation Engineering, Vol. 131, No. 10, October 2005, pp. 790-801, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: This paper explores the impact of unscheduled navigational and surveillance equipment outages on airport performance during visual flight rules and instrument flight rules at San Francisco International Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The following most common unscheduled short outages, which occurred during January 2000–December 2002, are analyzed in detail: very high frequency omnidirectional range (VOR), approach lighting system type 2 (ALSF-2), the secondary radar Mode S, and air traffic control radio beacon system (ATCRBS). We explore the air traffic control procedures and responses to unscheduled outages, and develop a methodology to examine the effects of unscheduled outages on airport performance. Two Federal Aviation Administration databases, maintenance management system and aviation system performance metrics, are used to construct censored regression models (i.e., Tobit models) to assess the airport throughput performance during such unscheduled outages. It is found that airport arrival and departure throughputs do not deteriorate with VOR and ALSF-2 outages due to availability of air traffic procedures that allow alternative approaches into the airport. However, the unscheduled outages of secondary radar Mode –S and ATCRBS do cause airport throughput degradations.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Air traffic
Airports and airfields
Equipment and machinery