FAA revises its modernization plan

The Federal Aviation Administration will release a new version of its Operational Evolution Plan later this month.

The version will not likely resolve several air traffic management challenges, however, including problems with the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System or replacing the Host Computer System for air traffic controllers.

STARS, which gives controllers a single display of weather reports and air traffic information [see story at www.gcn.com/21_31/news/20303-1.html, is a major part of the modernization system, and it still needs work, said Charlie Keegan, associate administrator for research and acquisitions, and leader of the OEP.

But replacing the Host Computer System hardware and upgrading National Airspace System software with the En Route Automation Modernization system, which will begin next year, could be more important, he said.

'If we want to modernize the airspace, we need to modernize that system,' Keegan said. 'Fundamental pieces are only now starting to shift, but we need things like ERAM to make those changes quickly.'

FAA administrator Marion Blakey said technology requirements for the new system and other details have yet to be determined and probably would not be included in the latest version of the OEP.

The FAA will meet with Air Transport Association leaders to discuss the plan next Thursday, she said.

FAA officials said they have not determined what the new Version 5.0 would include, but said they will move forward with other aspects of the modernization plan. One of those projects is the Wide Area Augmentation System, a navigation and landing system that augments the signal from the Global Positioning System; another is the User Request Evaluation Tool, which helps controllers detect and avoid air traffic conflicts.


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