Harris wins FAA telecom deal

The Federal Aviation Administration announced July 15 that it has awarded Harris Corp. the FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) contract, potentially worth $3.5 billion over 15 years.

FTI will integrate the management of multiple telecom networks, including satellite and phone services, for air traffic operations and administrative systems that are reaching the end of their lease terms or useful lives.

The FAA is taking a performance-based approach to the procurement that emphasizes results rather than detailed specifications and gives vendors room to come up with a best solution to meet an agency's mission.

"We look forward to putting an FTI network into place that meets the FAA's unique telecommunications services and security requirements, and support its critical role of managing the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS)," Phillip Farmer, chairman and CEO of Harris, said in a July 15 news release.

Harris has teamed with several subcontractors, including BellSouth Corp., Qwest Communications International Inc., Raytheon Co., SBC Communications Inc., Sprint and Verizon.

"The FAA has a need to upgrade their nationwide infrastructure, not just airport activity but really all of their facilities," said Tony D'Agata, vice president of the government systems division at Sprint. "It's a major undertaking initiated a few years ago and it's finally coming to fruition."

Two other groups, led by Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management and WorldCom Inc., competed for the services contract, which has a five-year base.

"FTI is a critical element of our overall plan to modernize the national airspace system," FAA Administrator Jane Garvey said in a July 15 news release. "The FAA and the Harris team are forming a long-term partnership to ensure that the U.S. airspace remains the safest in the world." The telecom network that currently supports the nation's air traffic control system eventually will become part of FTI.

The Leased Interfacility NAS Communications System (LINCS) -- used to transmit radar, weather and other data -- links 5,000 locations and carries more than 14,000 connections, enabling air traffic controllers to communicate with one another and with pilots.

The FAA awarded a follow-on contract to WorldCom in February to continue operating LINCS to smooth the transition to FTI.

WorldCom's original contract, which was competitively awarded in 1992, ended in March. The new five-year deal could bring as much as $604 million.


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