Longtime FAA watchers will remember the FAA’s advanced automation system (AAS), which was contracted in 1990 to replace the agency’s venerable Host ATC system, which had entered service 20 years earlier. AAS was to be the answer to the controllers’ every prayer, until it started to run into technical trouble. In fact, it encountered so much trouble that the FAA cancelled its development in 1994–reportedly at the strong urging of Congress–after expenditures had reached $2.6 billion, without clear indications of when it would achieve operational readiness or its final cost.
The FAA claims the NextGen Air Transportation System initiative is progressing, according to its recently issued NextGen Implementation Plan report, which projects a reduction in delays of 41 percent by the end of the mid-term implementation period in 2020.
Prime contractor Raytheon and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration have finished installing the standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars) at the first of 11 large terminal radar approach control (Tracon) facilities in the U.S. Air traffic controllers at the Dallas/Fort Worth Tracon started “continuous operation” with Stars ahead of schedule in early May, Raytheon announced at the Paris Air Show last month.
Select executives inside the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration are pushing hard to impose user and special fees on general aviation as part of a strategy to bridge the gap between the agency’s expenditures and revenues from its traditional fees and taxes. This includes charging $1- to $2 million for air traffic control and other services at airshows. However, it appears the FAA could reap billions of dollars in cost savings simply by implementing better management and business practices.
The deployment of Lockheed Martin’s formerly troubled en-route automation modernization (Eram) system should serve as an example of the program execution critical to the success of the complex NextGen ATC modernization effort, according to the company’s CEO, Marillyn Hewson.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (IG) issued a self-initiated report on Dec. 19, 2012, about the FAA’s en route automation modernization (Eram) program’s (flight) information security controls. Unfortunately, the IG did not make the report public online due to security requirements to protect the information crews might care about.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) has released a report outlining the effects sequestration will have on the aviation industry, as well as the U.S. economy, if Congress does not act to avert the across-the-board cuts scheduled to take effect January 1.
The director of Lockheed Martin’s En-route Automation Modernization (Eram) program has said the system’s deployment across the U.S.is on schedule and on budget since the FAA recalculated, or “re-baselined,” its cost and schedule in June last year.
The director of Lockheed Martin’s En route Automation Modernization (Eram) program has said the system’s deployment across the U.S. is on schedule and on budget since the FAA recalculated, or “rebaselined,” its cost and schedule in June last year.
NextGen is such a vast project, with so many interdependencies–where even if System A is complete and ready to go, it needs Systems B and C before it can be placed into service, and they now won’t be ready for another year or two–that predicting completion dates is a risky business. And predicting the final costs of uncompleted items could be even chancier.
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