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The FAA is Set To Modernize Air Traffic Control Over the Oceans

In anticipation of awarding a contract in June, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA<.>) has selected…

In anticipation of awarding a contract in June, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA<.>) has selected Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management to proceed to contract negotiations following a robust, international competition to replace the air traffic control automation system at three Air Route Traffic Control Centers.

The Advanced Technologies and Oceanic Procedures (ATOP) contract calls for the replacement of oceanic systems at the Anchorage, New York and Oakland centers, which handle air traffic in international airspace over the Pacific and Atlantic


The new oceanic system will collect, manage, and display oceanic air traffic data, including electronic flight-strip data, on the computer displays used by air traffic controllers. The new system will integrate capabilities, such as flight data processing, radar data processing, automatic dependent surveillance, controller-pilot data link and conflict probe. The new system is expected to result in efficiency improvements, fuel savings for the airlines and better on-time performance for air travelers. ATOP will allow more planes to fly preferred routes.

Oceanic air traffic control differs from domestic air traffic control largely because there is no radar tracking of aircraft and no direct radio communication. Oceanic air traffic controllers must rely on other sources of aircraft position information. This data includes voice position reports from pilots derived from on-board navigation systems that include the Global Positioning System and communications satellite information.

The ATOP contract will provide a modernized oceanic air traffic control automation system including, installation, training, procedural development support and lifecycle system maintenance. The contract also allows for pre-planned product improvements over the system lifecycle.

During a competitive 18-month process, a team of FAA experts from different disciplines conducted a thorough analysis of products available in the worldwide air traffic control marketplace.

The FAA concluded that Lockheed Martin offered the best value and acceptable development risk. Lockheed Martin`s proposed system is based on the system currently used by New Zealand for oceanic air traffic control and the Department of Defense and FAA`s Microprocessor Enroute Automated Radar Tracking System.

The Lockheed Martin proposed system will be modified to handle the busier and more complex U.S. airspace.

The ATOP evaluation teams were composed of controllers and maintainers of the current system; and subject matter experts in risk areas such as human factors, system security, system certification, air traffic control procedures and site implementation.

The FAA will sign agreements with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Professional Airways Systems Specialists about specific modifications necessary for introduction of the vendor`s system into the FAA operational environment. These changes, identified during the evaluation portion of the acquisition process, will be included in the contract.

The FAA expects to award a firm fixed price contract after final negotiations with Lockheed Martin are completed in June.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.