FAA Announces New Automation Contract
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Federal Aviation Administration moved ahead Thursday on development of new computerized work stations for air traffic controllers, a decision aimed at salvaging a major part of its troubled automation program.
Deputy Administrator Linda Hall Daschle announced an $898 million contract for Loral Corp. to design and build some 3,000 work stations for use in 22 traffic control centers.
A separate, $57 million deal was announced with the same firm to develop new traffic controller systems for local airport towers.
The moves are the latest chapter in the saga of the FAA’s Advanced Automation Systems program, which was sharply curtailed a year ago.
After nearly a decade of delays and $1.4 billion in expenses the program was declared ``out of control″ in 1994. FAA Administrator David R. Hinson canceled portions of the project and ordered other sections to be re-evaluated.
Once projected at $7 billion, costs of the agency’s overall automation program have now been cut to a planned $5.6 billion, Daschle said. She said the contracts announced Thursday represented a $350 million saving from earlier projections.
Loral purchased the development contract from IBM. Daschle said the FAA is confident that the new company can complete development of the equipment. She noted the new contract is a fixed price rather than the former deal which had no cap, and the Loral contract includes incentives for early completion and penalties for being late.
The new controller work stations will replace 25-year-old equipment which is hard to maintain and is strained by current traffic loads, said Pete Sweers of the FAA’s Advanced Systems and Facilities Division. He said the new units will permit controllers to easily use such new developments as Doppler radar and the global positioning system.
Robert Valone, FAA’s director of air traffic systems development, said the first of the new equipment is expected to be delivered in 1997 and all units by mid-2000.
The contract for development of the equipment for local towers calls for one test unit, to be tried out in El Paso, Texas, officials said. If that is a success, more equipment will be purchased for other towers.
The in-flight centers that will receive the 3,000 work stations ordered Thursday control long-distance flights. They supervise about 105,000 flights every day, Daschle said.
The centers are in Albuquerque, N.M.; Anchorage, Alaska; Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Cleveland, Denver; Fort Worth, Texas; Honolulu; Houston; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Kansas City; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tenn.; Miami; Minneapolis; New York; Oakland, Calif.; Salt Lake City; Seattle; and Washington.