IG audits FAA plans for new air traffic system

The Transportation Department's Inspector General began an audit this week of the Federal Aviation Administration's progress in its $2 billion plan to replace its 30-year-old Host computer air traffic system.

The IG will review whether FAA has a realistic plan to provide the new En Route Automation Modernization program on time and within budget, David Dobbs, the associate IG for aviation audits, said in a statement Friday.

The IG will also examine cost and scheduling risks and whether the FAA has integrated adequate computer security into the design.

FAA intends to replace the Host computer hardware and software, including the Host backup system, with the new en route system. Host tracks the movement of high-altitude aircraft throughout the National Airspace System. Because the Host software architecture is so old, it is difficult to maintain and will not support new technologies that enhance capacity, Dobbs said.

Under the acquisition plan, FAA will spend $2.1 billion by 2010 to complete the new system's development and deployment to 27 facilities. Progress and problems with ERAM will affect many other FAA programs, including new communications systems and airspace redesign efforts.

'There is little room for further cost growth and schedule slips with large FAA acquisitions,' Dobbs said. FAA needs to ensure that the new system is properly integrated with other FAA modernization systems, keep requirements stable and control costs, he said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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