The Federal Aviation Administration's interest in radar problems at Kansas International Airport should be welcomed by area travelers.
Travelers flying in and out of Kansas City International Airport will be glad to know that glitches in the facility's air traffic control system finally have gotten the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration. Control of KCI flights is being switched to a tower in Olathe from 9 p.m. today to 8 a.m. Sunday to give FAA officials a chance to perform diagnostic testing on equipment in the KCI control tower. While they're at it, they'll be performing some preventive maintenance on the system.
It's about time. The radar at KCI went down three times last month and was out for a total of 21.5 hours. Each time, KCI switched to the backup system in Olathe. The national average for airports using such backup systems is 62.4 hours a year, and the FAA says the safety at KCI has never been compromised. Nonetheless, area travelers must be relieved that the FAA believes the problems at the KCI tower need to be investigated and remedied.
The bad news is that when power is restored to the KCI tower on Sunday, the experts fear all systems may not immediately go back into operation. That could mean some ground and airborne delays for weekend travelers.
Better a few delays, though, than a disastrous accident. Directing air traffic at a major airport is nerve-wracking enough if everything is working properly. KCI and FAA officials need to do everything they can to make sure air traffic controllers at the airport have a reliable radar system at their disposal.