FAA, foreign delegates discuss, share date code fixes

Federal Aviation Administration officials are working with their international
counterparts to help make their systems year 2000-ready, an FAA spokesman said.


But some industry observers don’t think FAA is moving quickly enough to ensure
that data interfaces between the United States and foreign air systems will be ready for
2000 and beyond.


FAA officials have met with overseas air travel associations, including the
International Civil Aviation Authority and the International Air Transport Association, to
compare notes on date code work, said Joe Morgan, FAA’s international special
projects manager for the FAA Year 2000 Program Office.


FAA hopes working with governments and trade associations will encourage them to
address the problem internationally, Morgan said.


"We’ve been taking a proactive, leadership role in dealing with Y2K issues in
the international air traffic services arena," Morgan said.


"Because we don’t have regulatory authority over foreign traffic systems, all
we can do is actively support efforts in dealing with the Y2K problem," he said.


FAA has helped guide ICAA, a Brussels trade association that represents 185 member
nations, and IATA, a Geneva trade association that represents 269 airlines, in creating a
year 2000 program office similar to FAA’s.


FAA wants to have seven major systems year 2000-ready by September: air traffic
services, requirements and acquisitions, regulation certification, airports, civil
aviation, administration and commercial space transportation.


It is sharing its approaches to fixing those systems with international air
authorities.


"We are trying to ensure that our systems can talk to systems in other
countries," Morgan said.


FAA is also working with its counterparts in the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico and
Japan, Morgan said.


On this side of the Atlantic, analysts said FAA has been responsive in dealing with the
year 2000 problem, but it hasn’t moved quickly enough internationally.


Bob Cohen, vice president of the Information Technology Association of America of
Arlington, Va., said he believes FAA hasn’t made much of a difference
internationally.


"I have no evidence the FAA is working with its foreign counterparts," said
Cohen. "I think it’s on the bottom of the FAA’s list."


FAA is so far behind in meeting its late September deadline that it’s only worried
about getting its own house in order, Cohen said. American air travelers would be
comforted, Cohen said, if FAA would ensure that automated flying systems in American
aircraft are ready.


Brown acknowledges it isn’t easy coordinating efforts internationally.
Unfamiliarity with foreign air traffic systems makes it difficult, he said.


Tom Browne, a year 2000 analyst at the Air Transport Association in Washington, agreed
that FAA has become more active in raising awareness internationally. ATA represents 28
airlines in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe.


Vital aircraft computer electronic transmissions may fail in 2000 unless governments
work together to solve the problem in the international arena, Browne said.


If systems fail, commercial pilots can use radio frequencies to communicate with ground
towers and other aircraft. But fixing date code now will prevent major communications
breakdowns between systems that guide and land aircraft, he said.

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