FAA picks ITT for digital radios
- By Greg Langlois
- Aug 01, 2001
The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded ITT Industries Inc. a contract potentially worth $580 million to provide 37,000 digital radios for air traffic control.
The initial contract, worth $20.5 million, is the first under the FAA's Next Generation Air/Ground Communications (NexCom) program to replace analog radios with digital ones. Agency officials say that the new equipment will help the FAA meet increasing air traffic control communications demands.
"This is the first building block in that next-generation system," said John Kirkwood, a spokesman for ITT Industries, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Kirkwood said that the radios the company and its partners provide—the ITT/Park Air CAVU 2100 Multimode Digital Radio—have four channels for each frequency, compared with one channel per frequency for analog radios. That will free up space on an increasingly crowded and "noisy" radio spectrum, he said.
With the new radios, "the controllers and the pilots are assured they're going to get locked on to secure transmissions," Kirkwood said.
Additionally, with the ability to transmit data as well as voice commands, the radios could make flying more efficient, he said. For example, weather updates might be transmitted to aircraft while controllers make movement commands, he said.
ITT Industries is partnering with Park Air Systems, a British subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corp.; Federal Data Corp.; and Operational Technologies Services Inc. Park Air's experience in digital radio technology and ITT Industries' past work with the FAA and the U.S. military helped secure the award, Kirkwood said.
"It's a perfect marriage of technology and experience," he said.
Delivery will begin in 2003, Kirkwood said. Until then, operational testing will take place. Several radios are already being tested at the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center in New Jersey, he said.
The new radio will be installed at 1,500 remote air-to-ground communications and backup emergency communications facilities serving 21 Air Route Traffic Control Centers, according to the FAA.