FAA continues air traffic links

The Federal Aviation Administration awarded WorldCom Inc. a follow-on contract Feb. 27 to continue operating the telecommunications network that supports the nation's air traffic control system.

The agency has extended services on the Leased Interfacility NAS Communications System to bridge the gap between LINCS and a future contract, the FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure.

LINCS, which is used to transmit radar, weather and other data, eventually will become part of FTI, the planned next-generation network.

WorldCom's original contract, which was competitively awarded in 1992, ends this month. FAA announced plans in June 2000 to lengthen the contract.

"I don't think there has been a single major government network where the government hasn't issued a bridge contract to cover their contingencies," Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc., told Federal Computer Week at the time.

The new sole-source, five-year contract is worth as much as $604 million.

"The FAA requires a highly reliable telecommunications infrastructure for its critical air traffic control mission," FAA Administrator Jane Garvey said in a news release.

LINCS connects 5,000 locations and carries more than 14,000 connections, allowing air traffic controllers to communicate with one other and with pilots.

The FAA will use the additional time to prepare the transition to FTI, which is under competition. An award announcement is expected later this year.

"We appreciate the professional efforts of the FAA and MCI WorldCom team that keep this network running day in and day out," Garvey said.

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