FAA IT delays mount
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Feb 06, 2000
A critical system that is part of the Federal Aviation Administration's
plan to use satellite navigation is again behind schedule, FAA Administrator
Jane Garvey told Senate members last week, adding to a growing list of modernization
delays and funding concerns.
The Wide-Area Augmentation System (WAAS), a ground- and space-based
system of 24 reference stations that correct and verify location data received
from Global Positioning System satellites, had problems during testing.
The goal of WAAS is to improve the ability of aircraft to make precision
approaches and landings. Software problems had delayed WAAS by 14 months
to September 2000, but it has been delayed further.
Raytheon Co., the WAAS developer, discovered the most recent glitch
during tests of the system, Garvey told a joint hearing of the Senate Budget
Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee's Transportation Subcommittee.
Although the tests demonstrated the system's ability to exceed its accuracy
requirements, tests also showed it could fail to stop the transmission of
an erroneous signal, said Peter Dunham, deputy manager of Raytheon's domestic
air traffic control business.
A new cost accounting system is key to controlling the cost and schedule
of key modernization programs, such as WAAS, that have repeatedly been delayed,
Garvey said. The delays come as the volume of air traffic has increased
about 4 percent per year, Garvey said.
Cost accounting system deployment has been completed for en-route and
oceanic air traffic control, but the schedule for terminal and tower services
and flight service stations has slipped until 2002 because of a $2 million
funding shortfall in the agency's fiscal 2000 appropriation. Garvey did
not attribute the schedule slips in air traffic system modernization to
funding woes but blamed difficult software development, changes in contract
management and a lack of cost accounting.
"We can't just blindly throw billions of dollars at our nation's airports
and expect congestion to disappear," Sen. Frank Lautenberg said in his opening
statement. "We can't just throw billions of dollars at our aviation equipment
manufacturers and expect an efficient, state-of-the-art system to emerge
at the other end."