OUT-OF-CONTROL TOWER

THE EQUIPMENT? ANTIQUE. THE HUBS? UNDERSTAFFED. A MODERN AIR-TRAFFIC-CONTROL SYSTEM IS YEARS AWAY

FOR SIX TERRIFYING MINUTES LAST month, 35 pilots were forced to navigate the airspace around Pittsburgh International Airport on a wing and a prayer. As two planes readied to take off from parallel runways and 33 planes cruised the surrounding air corridors, one of the airport's power systems shorted out. That tiny malfunction shut down all radarscopes, telephone lines, landing-instrument systems, radio connections and lights inside the air-control tower. "You have to visualize a radarscope showing two planes aimed at each other from 50 miles away," says Barry Krasner, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "Your equipment goes down...

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