FAA Announces New Automation Contract
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A year after declaring the program ``out of control″ and ordering changes, the government is resuming efforts to modernize the quarter-century-old technology in the nation’s air traffic control system.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced an $898 million contract Thursday for Loral Corp. to build 3,000 computerized work stations for the 22 major air traffic control centers.
A separate $57 million deal was announced for Loral to design new work stations for local airport towers.
The purchases are part of the FAA’s troubled Advanced Automation Systems, a project that was declared out of control a year ago after costs of $1.4 billion and nearly a decade of problems and delays.
FAA Administrator David R. Hinson canceled parts of the project at that time and ordered others re-evaluated.
Assistant Administrator Linda Hall Daschle said total costs for the agency’s planned automation programs, once projected at $7 billion, have now been cut to a planned $5.6 billion. She said the contracts announced Thursday represented a $350 million saving from earlier projections.
Loral purchased the development contract from IBM and Daschle said the FAA is confident that the new company can complete development of the equipment. She noted that the new contract carries a fixed price rather than the former open-ended deal and includes incentives for early completion and penalties for being late.
The new work stations will replace 25-year-old equipment that 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 Satellite system.
Robert Valone, the 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. He said a separate development contract is expected to be announced later this year for new controller work stations for regional traffic centers at major airports.
The in-flight centers that will receive the 3,000 new work stations ordered Thursday control long-distance flights nationwide. They supervise about 105,000 flights every day, Daschle said.
The centers are in or near 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.