FAA, DOD see STARS with Raytheon

The Federal Aviation Administration last week awarded Raytheon Co. a contract potentially worth more than $1 billion to field internationally proven air traffic control technology at FAA and Defense Department facilities nationwide.

The Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) program - a joint FAA/DOD program - will replace systems in Terminal Radar Approach Control (Tracon) facilities where controllers monitor traffic in the 50 miles of airspace surrounding an airport. The FAA has 172 such sites and DOD has 199.

In a break with past FAA modernization efforts Raytheon will deliver an air traffic control system that is based largely on off-the-shelf components and is already in use in other worldwide markets. The FAA expects to save as much as $400 million by taking this approach.

"Our objective was simple: to deliver on time an affordable air traffic control system that will improve safety and efficiency and accommodate future changes in technology " said FAA deputy administrator Linda Hall Daschle.

As one of its primary screening criteria the FAA only considered systems already in use in the aviation community "so we knew whatever system we bought it had some level of maturity " said Dave Ford the FAA's source-selection official for STARS.

Any such system would have to be modified for U.S. airspace which handles more traffic and uses more data sources than other countries. Most existing systems have been developed using off-the-shelf components which will make it easier to integrate the needed functionality agency officials believed.Raytheon's solution which won primarily because of its technical merit is based on an air traffic control system called AutoTrac. Raytheon began globally marketing AutoTrac in 1990 and it is now used in 19 countries including Canada China Germany and Normandy.

Raytheon took extra functionality required by each successive customer and added it to the basic system. AutoTrac is now a mature system "with that many different [customers] effectively building new features into the system " said Michael Hoeffler manager of transportation systems at Raytheon.

The FAA's component of the program is expected to be worth as much as $958 million while the DOD work is worth several hundred million dollars. Raytheon is expected to begin delivering systems in December 1998 with the last systems going into airports about nine years later.

Raytheon's team includes Hughes Information Systems Magnavox Electronic Co. and Sun Microsystems Federal Inc. Hughes will provide an off-the-shelf backup system which played an important role in Raytheon's winning proposal and installation services. Magnavox will provide controller displays and Sun will provide workstation hardware and software.

Two other vendors submitted bids on STARS: Boeing which teamed with BDM to offer a Tracon system BDM had developed for DOD and Lockheed Martin Corp. which now owns the Federal Systems Group that originally won the multibillion-dollar Advanced Automation System contract for modernizing air traffic control in 1988.

BDM and Lockheed Martin were unable to discuss the contract award company spokeswomen said.STARS fills a gap left two years ago when the FAA canceled AAS which at that point was years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

AAS covered three major airspace segments: en route tower and terminal. After canceling AAS IBM Federal Systems acquired by Loral Corp. in 1994 retained the en route segment now called Display System Replacement and the downsized tower program.

Overall source-selection officials visited 150 vendor sites and pored over more than 50 000 pages of solicitation documents. "If we get a protest I'll tell you we will win it " Daschle said.

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