FAA officially awards IT upgrade pact to Harris

As expected the Federal Aviation Administration last week officially awarded Harris Corp. an estimated $120 million contract to replace a system that supplies general-aviation pilots with weather briefings and flight-planning services.

Harris will replace the 15-year-old flight service automation program with a new system called the Operational and Supportability Implementation System (OASIS) which is designed to improve communications and information provided to general-aviation pilots.

"There is a lack of spare parts for the current system that will begin to degrade system performance " an FAA spokesman said. "Also the current system can't handle the growing amount of weather data which starts to infringe on safety." Starting this year the FAA will not be able to support a lot of existing hardware.

The FAA also cannot expand the current system to accommodate current and future functional requirements such as free flight a major project that the FAA is developing that will allow pilots and airlines - not the FAA - to choose the best flight route based on current weather and traffic conditions. Free flight is expected to save the commercial airlines billions of dollars.

"OASIS will significantly reduce life-cycle costs through use of [commercial off-the-shelf] software and hardware while increasing supportability and improving the user interface " said Kevin Pruett manager of business development in Harris' Information Systems Division. "With OASIS the actual route of flight can be integrated into weather graphics greatly improving the efficiency of the flight service station specialist."OASIS will give general-aviation pilots access to the same weather information that currently is available to commercial pilots who receive weather information from one central point.

Harris currently is providing en route weather information for the FAA through the Weather and Radar Processor program.

Last month the FAA reduced the field of bidders to Harris which beat out Electronic Data Systems Corp. I-NET Inc. Boeing and incumbent E-Systems [FCW Aug. 11].

OASIS will upgrade up to 61 flight service stations over the next 10 years using Harris' Weather Information Navigation Graphics System a software application that combines weather display graphics and automated flight-planning capabilities.

The FAA uses flight service stations to communicate essential flight information such as weather special notices and flight-planning information to general-aviation pilots. The FAA expects to begin testing the new system this month.

Subcontractors on the contract include Data Transformation Corp. and Unisys Corp.

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