FAA project hits snag, but on target overall, officials say

Despite a one-month delay in the early part of the procurement process for a major aircraft tracking system, Federal Aviation Administration officials claim the project will remain on schedule.

The planned release of the Advanced Technologies and Oceanic Procedures (ATOP) screening information request (SIR), which is intended to solicit vendor proposals, has changed from mid-January to mid-February. ATOP will automate the way aircraft are tracked as they fly through oceanic airspace.

"The team was overly optimistic about the time it would take to respond to and incorporate comments and get it through our approval process," said Nathan Tash, FAA Oceanic and Offshore Integrated Product Team program manager.

The team is responding to comments from industry and air traffic customers collected following the FAA ATOP industry day Dec. 15, 1999 (www.faa.gov/aua/ipt_prod/oceanic.htm), Tash said.

Tash does not expect the delay to impact other plans, such as the first evaluations of vendors' systems, scheduled for late spring and early summer. If the SIR release slips past mid-February, however, the evaluation and deployment schedule could slip, he said.

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