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Air traffic radar control shifting to Japanese

Date Posted: 2010-03-25

Some 65 years after the end of World War II, radar control of air space over Okinawa is to switch from American to Japanese control next week.

Kadena Radar Approach Control located on Kadena Air Base has handled all radar approach control within a 90-kilometer radius and 6,000-meter height around Okinawa, as well as over Kume Island and a space extending 55 kilometers and to a height of 1,500 meters. That ends as Kadena Rapcon transfers to Japanese control on March 31st, giving Japanese operational control of the air above and around Okinawa.

The new control agent is Naha Entry Control Area, or Naha Approach. From March 31st, all civilian aircraft and American and Japanese military aircraft will fall under the Naha Entry Control Area. American air traffic controllers have maintained the responsibility since June 1945, when Okinawa was under American control.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism says the 10-kilometer area after takeoff from Naha International Airport had been a problem for civilian aircraft, because it conflicted with American military planes and their landing pattern. The military rules required that civilian airliners had to fly very low, at an altitude of 300 meters, then climb rapidly to higher altitudes, a maneuver that made some passengers uncomfortable.

With the flight controls under Japanese authority beginning next week, the Ministry says it will be easier for air traffic controllers to know where the American military aircraft are, and to re-direct civilian airliners to avoid conflict while flying higher traffic patterns.

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