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InfoBeat, 01:47 PM ET 06/05/98
Clinton's plane briefly disappears from radar

New York (Reuters) - President Clinton's plane disappeared briefly from air traffic control radar screens Friday but there was never any danger to those on board Air Force One, aviation officials said. A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said there was an apparent malfunction of radar at the Gibbsboro facility in southern New Jersey. “The Gibbsboro radar experienced a difficulty when Air Force One was in that airspace between Washington and Bedford, Massachusetts,” FAA spokesman Jim Peters said. Clinton flew from Washington for an appearance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge near Boston Friday morning.

The FAA said in a statement in Washington that the Gibbsboro, New Jersey, radar lost track of Air Force One for 36 seconds at 8:11 a.m. EDT. "Preliminary information indicates that for three sweeps of the radar (36 seconds) complete information on Air Force One was not available,” the statement said. ”Safety was not compromised and communications were maintained with the aircraft at all times. The matter is under investigation.” CBS News radio quoted air traffic control union officials as saying that controllers twice lost track of Air Force One, but the FAA confirmed only one incident. The CBS News report said that one of those instances was over New York's La Guardia airport, where a near mid-air collision in April prompted the FAA to announce Thursday that it was ordering additional training for 10,000 air traffic controllers.

Officials said the Air Force One incident was unrelated to the delays of flights at three major New York area airports Friday morning after a computer software problem at a Long Island air traffic control center. The FAA said the software was reinstalled and the problem was repaired by 7:30 a.m. EDT. By Friday afternoon flights at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, and La Guardia and John F. Kennedy International airports in New York were back on schedule, airport officials said. The FAA said computerized information about aircraft was lost from screens at a Long Island control center during software testing but at no time were controllers out of contact with planes.