Lockheed gets FAA's En Route pact

The Federal Aviation Administration awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. a contract worth up to $125 million Monday to develop and field the En Route Communications Gateway, which will connect data from radar sites to the FAA's system of en route air traffic control centers.

ECG will replace the Peripheral Adapter Module Replacement Item (PAMRI), a system that has been running for 10 years that originally was designed as a temporary replacement for 1960s technology.

It will be installed at the FAA's 21 Air Route Traffic Control Centers, which manage flights between airports, as well as at two additional sites in Oklahoma and New Jersey.

ECG will:

* Be the gateway for data provided by radar sites to the Air Route Traffic Control Centers.

* Serve as the interface for the exchange of flight plan data among the control centers.

* Be the primary means to transfer data among systems within the control centers.

The Seattle center will receive ECG first. The FAA expects it to be operational there by summer 2003. It will be fielded at the last site by mid-2005.

If the FAA exercises all its maintenance options with Lockheed Martin, the company could hold the ECG contract through 2017. FAA spokeswoman Tammy Jones said Lockheed remained the only vendor interested in ECG after the agency issued a screening information request.

Though not specifically mentioned in the FAA's 10-year Operational Evolution Plan for modernization and air system capacity growth, the system will support parts of that plan. For example, it will provide the foundation for new radar and surveillance programs, such as the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast system, in which aircraft broadcast their positions at regular intervals to provide more accurate position information.

"I think it's part of our whole plan to modernize air traffic systems," Jones said. "It is an important function."

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