The weather has not fully come up to expectations this winter at the Plateau de Bure: the observing conditions have been excellent in January and February but relatively poor in December, March and April when compared to the exceptional observing conditions we have been enjoying in the winter 2002/2003. Despite the difficult conditions, the observatory has brought to completion almost every A-rated project before the end of the winter period and has been able to invest observing time on many B projects, and even on a few targets of opportunity. Since last November, a total of 45 projects has successfully been scheduled for observations, and we are still confident to complete in the next few months a few projects that we have been able to start at the end of the winter period.
We would like to remind users of the Plateau de Bure Interferometer that B-rated winter proposals which were not started by May 15, have to be resubmitted. The daily status of all ongoing projects is accessible on the Internet at ./IRAMFR/PDB/ongoing.html.
In connection with the long-term plans to extend the capabilities of the Plateau de Bure Interferometer, work has started recently to extend the eastern track from now 408m to 800m. More than 13000m of rock will have to be removed to create a flat area of 3500m on which antennas will move to reach the extremity of the eastern track. According to current plans, the eastern track extension should get completed in time for the winter 2006/2007.
The northern track extension will not be available in the next winter scheduling period. The lifting system (``blondin'') for the transport of heavy equipment and materials to the Plateau de Bure site has been stopped in May to meet the safety standards required for the regular maintenance program. As a consequence of the stop, work to complete the track extension from N29 to N46 has finally been deferred to the summer 2005.