2003-02-15 / Front Page

Doppler Radar On Line At Floyd Bennett

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

The controversial Terminal Doppler Weather Radar System (TDWR) that warns planes at both John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports of deadly wind shear conditions went on line last week.

The facility, sited at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, will help to detect hazardous weather that could threaten both arriving and departing flights at those two local airports.

The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) facilitated the development of the critical radar system after wind shear conditions forced Eastern Airlines Flight 66 to slam into Rockaway Boulevard on June 25, 1975. At the time, the heavy 727 jet was seconds from touching down at JFK Airport when it encountered heavy shifting winds, often called wind shear by pilots and meteorologists.

The radar that went on line last week is designed to prevent such crashes by measuring the differences in wind direction and force during weather conditions such as microbursts, thunder storms and other turbulence conditions.

The radar installation itself sits on a site that was once a Coast Guard facility at Floyd Bennett Field. The white, 47-foot sphere that sits atop a an 82-foot tower, is easily discernable from Beach Channel Drive.

"The availability of the TDWR facility for both Kennedy and LaGuardia gives us one more tool to make sure that planes coming in and out of New York can land and take off safely," FAA spokesperson Jim Peters told reporters.

The plan to place the TDWR at Floyd Bennett Field caused lots of controversy in Rockaway, both from those who saw it as a danger and from those who thought that it did not belong in a national park.

"The FAA is going to microwave all of us who live in Rockaway," Democratic District Leader Lew Simon said that the time.

Congressman Anthony Weiner was among those who fought the radar being placed in Gateway National Park on the grounds that it was an inappropriate placement.

"Our national parks should be for people to visit and to enjoy their leisure," he said. "The parks are not the place for an aviation installation that is so intrusive and out of place."

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