European Air Traffic Flying Smoothly

BRUSSELS (12/31/99) - By 12/31/99 , 11:30 p.m. local time - European air traffic is not experiencing as much as a hiccup, say air transport experts at Euroclear, the organization that is the European equivalent of the Federal Aviation Administration.

At 11:00 pm, engineers on standby at Eurocontrol were already enjoying a salad bar that includes salmon, scampis and tomato-crevette. Red and white whine was being served. Personnel weres awaiting the first reports from the time zone that includes Finland, Greece and Turkey, but George Paulson, a director at Eurocontrol responsible for safety management in airospace and airports, seems almost uninterested. "I would have been worried, except that since noon [local time] all reports [from other time zones that already experienced the date rollover] have been positive," said Paulson.

"The big test for us was the more sophisticated Russian [air control] centers, and especially Moscow," said Paulson. "And 45 minutes ago they reported that there was no degradation of the air-traffic control system."

Paulson said the Moscow system was a crucial test because it is more sophisticated than air-traffic control systems that passed midnight earlier today. "It's very highly automated," said Paulson.

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