FAA updates plan for modernizing nation's air system

The Federal Aviation Administration today released a long-awaited updated version of its plan to modernize the National Airspace System (NAS), which includes air traffic control towers, radar, and communications and navigation systems.

The Blueprint for NAS Modernization Version 4.0 contains the capabilities, technologies and systems that will make up the FAA's massive modernization effort through 2015. The blueprint is a high-level overview of the larger and also updated NAS Architecture Version 4.0 document that describes the FAA's modernization strategy.

The modernization plan is based on the air traffic management concept of free flight, which allows pilots to choose the most efficient and economical route to their destination rather than having to use prescribed routes.

NAS modernization is divided into three phases. The first phase, lasting from 1998 to 2002, includes upgrades to air traffic controller workstations and deployment of the Wide-Area Augmentation System, which is a satellite-based navigation system. In Phase 2, starting in 2003 and lasting through 2007, the FAA plans to complete WAAS. During Phase 3, starting in 2008 and lasting through 2015, the required infrastructure and integration of automation improvements with new communications, navigation and surveillance equipment will be completed.

Version 4.0 of the NAS blueprint and the architecture are available on the Web at www.faa.gov/nasarchitecture.

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