determine the time to various fixes and to the destination based on the knowledge of the aircraft's performance and the upper winds. Estimates were passed from one facility to another indicating when the receiving facility or sector could expect to have control of the flight.
The first air traffic function to see some automation was flight planning and progress strips. In the early 1960s, some of the large ARTCCs began to take advantage of rudimentary electronic computers to process flight plan information and print flight progress strips for manual distribution within the ARTCC sectors. These systems led to the development of the IBM 9020A mainframe computer. However, there was no standard computer program; each ARTCC with a 9020A developed "local programs." The first national program, developed to meet 80 to 85 percent of the requirements of each facility, became operational in 1972. Its extension to the remaining ARTCCs allowed flight progress information to be automatically passed to all air traffic control facilities throughout the United States. The radar data processor was added to the 9020s in the mid-1970s. The 9020s were replaced in the late 1980s with the HOST system, which handles more capacity with greater speed.
In the service of terminal (TRACON and tower) controllers, the automated radar terminal system (ARTS) performs radar data processing independent of the HOST computer, but relies on the HOST for flight data processing functions. ARTS performs additional processing involving a combination of radar data processor and flight data processor information. ARTS is a ground-based system that provides the air traffic controller with alphanumeric information superimposed on a raw radar target return. The information presented to the air traffic controller is aircraft identity (call sign), mode C altitude (if the aircraft is so equipped), ground speed of the aircraft, type of aircraft, whether or not the aircraft is considered a heavy jet (this is required for separation purposes), and miscellaneous information such as destination airport or first fix on the route of flight. The ARTS supports display of this information in the form of a data block that is constantly associated with the actual radar target through a software tracking program.
The ARTS system was introduced to assist the controller with memory tasks. Providing information on the display rather than only on flight progress strips, the ARTS was intended to allow the controller more time to look directly at the display and to have real-time information available, such as aircraft identity, aircraft type, altitude, and ground speed.
The first ARTS systems, called ARTS I and ARTS IA, were deployed in the New York and Atlanta facilities in the early and mid-1960s. They were essentially prototypes that led to the ARTS III, which was introduced to major TRACONs beginning in late 1969. ARTS II, which has less functionality (e.g.,