FAA adds redundancy to voice communications lines

The Federal Aviation Administration is installing 1,000 circuit protection switches on voice lines between major air traffic control facilities as part of the $1.9 billion FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure program.

The customized switches, from Dataprobe Inc. of Paramus, N.J., provide automatic failover to redundant lines and networking equipment in the event of a failure. Primary contractor for FTI is Harris Corp.

In the initial deployment the switches are being installed in FAA Air Route Traffic Centers and Terminal Radar Approach Control facilities. Future installations will include Airport Traffic Control Tower and Automated Flight Service Stations.

The switches will help ensure that ground circuits carrying air-to-ground voice communications between aircraft and air traffic controllers are not interrupted.

The switches, to be used on four-wire analog voice lines, were customized to meet FAA line quality specifications. They also were modified to integrate with Harris' standard network device management system, said Dataprobe president David Weiss.

Dataprobe provides circuit protection devices for both digital and analog links. The market for analog equipment is shrinking, Weiss said.

'The analog world in which we play is being phased out,' he said. 'It's becoming much more specialized.'

Most organizations consider their networks mission critical, Weiss said, but the FAA is a special case.

'This project is going to affect all air traffic, commercial civilian and military flights,' he said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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