FAA, Lockheed ink oceanic pact

The Federal Aviation Administration and Lockheed Martin Corp. reached a final agreement this week for the company to modernize air traffic control systems handling ocean-crossing flights.

The FAA and Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management signed a deal Monday under the Advanced Technologies and Oceanic Procedures (ATOP) program, which will replace air traffic management systems at the Oakland, Calif., New York and Anchorage, Alaska, air route traffic control centers. Those centers are responsible for traffic crossing the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.

In May, the FAA announced it had selected Lockheed Martin for ATOP — rather than the other finalist, ARINC Inc. — and that the agency was going ahead with negotiations to reach a firm-fixed price contract agreement. The final agreement is worth $217 million, according to FAA spokeswoman Tammy Jones.

Initial systems operations are planned for Oakland in 2003, Jones said, with New York and Anchorage to follow.

The three centers support air traffic operating in 80 percent of the world's controlled oceanic airspace — some 23 million square miles, according to Lockheed Martin.

ATOP will replace a system in which air traffic controllers use paper strips to track the path of aircraft over oceans and in which there is no direct radio communication to pilots. The new system will collect, manage and display oceanic air traffic data, including electronic flight-strip data, on computer displays used by air traffic controllers, according to the FAA.

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