FAA to spend another $57 million on STARS

FAA to spend another $57 million on STARS

The Federal Aviation Administration awarded Raytheon Co. a $57 million contract option to continue deployment of the new color display Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, or STARS, a joint procurement between FAA and the Defense Department.

Contract options include production and deployment of 14 systems for the FAA and nine for DoD, as well as logistics and support, including training, maintenance and testing, the company said today.

STARS is an open-architecture air traffic automation system that provides high-resolution color displays, new computer processing and communication equipment. System features include a six-level display of weather conditions, multi-radar tracking capability and easy incorporation of new hardware and software.

Air traffic controllers currently use STARS at 31 FAA and 21 DoD sites. But aging displays are still in use at many other major airport towers and regional air traffic facilities.

FAA still needs to make a decision on what technology it will use to complete terminal modernization based on cost, time and capabilities, said Transportation Inspector General Kenneth Mead in congressional testimony earlier this month. The dependability of aging displays at four large sites, including Chicago and Denver, are of most concern.

'Displays at Denver, for example, are locking up randomly'this problem has occurred over 100 times in the last three and one half years and is now occurring a little over once a week,' Mead told lawmakers.

Last year, FAA cut its commitment to just 47 STARS sites at a cost of $1.46 billion. Cost overruns and delays had forced FAA into an incremental approach. The agency originally budgeted $940 million to upgrade 172 sites.

The agency is now considering whether to retain the Common Automated Radar Terminal System at facilities where it is installed, rather than upgrading to STARS. Common ARTS provides many of STARS' functions, but the majority of sites with Common ARTS still have aging displays. FAA had planned to install the new displays when it upgraded sites to STARS.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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