In the works

Some of the major programs in the pipeline at the Federal Aviation Administration include:

* The En Route Automation Modernization, which will upgrade computer hardware and software at the agency's 20 enroute centers, the facilities that take over after an aircraft leaves an airport's airspace. FAA officials want to complete the program by 2008, the end-of-life date for the IBM Corp. mainframes that run the agency's software.

* Controller/Pilot Data Link Communications, which replaces the current method of two-way voice radio with faster, more reliable text messaging for nonurgent exchanges. The data link program went operational at the FAA's Miami Enroute Center Oct. 7 and eventually will be expanded nationwide.

* The Wide Area Augmentation System, which enhances information provided by the Global Positioning System, a 24-satellite constellation that enables users to determine their positions anywhere in the world, and broadcasts it to receivers on aircraft. FAA officials expect to make the system available for aviation use in 2003.

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