The airport currently operates two radar systems simultaneously: the first is a secondary surveillance radar (SSR) that operates as an interrogator, one part giving the aircraft identity and the other element gives an altitude report. The second is a primary surveillance radar (PSR) that enables Air Traffic Control to provide a basic radar service. The PSR displays aircraft position information a blip but does not provide any additional features, such as identification.
Airport director Ann Reynolds said: At the end of 2011, the approval to operate the SSR at Ronaldsway will cease and Isle of Man Airport will no longer be able to use this radar. At the same time, the Primary Surveillance Radar (PSR) is coming to the end of its useful life, having been originally installed in 1965 and modified in 1995. Whilst it is currently working, over the last three years there have been several breakdowns, including two major ones, each costing between 80,000 and 100,000. Soon it will no longer be serviceable.
The DOI says that the UK Civil Aviation Authority wrote to all UK Airports in 2006 to warn that approvals to old binary radar sysems would not be issued after 2011, in accordance with the UK policy of installing modern digital systems. It would mean the SSR could not be used after next year. Ms Reynolds said: Should no replacement secondary system be installed for use after December 31, 2011, then Isle of Man Airport would be left with a primary radar service only, in effect turning back the clock and providing a very much reduced air traffic control service. Although this would enable the airport to still operate a safe ATC service, the efficiency of this service would be very much impaired and any subsequent air traffic delays would not be acceptable.