FAA awards ITT $1B NextGen air traffic contract

The Federal Aviation Administration today awarded ITT and its team a contract worth more than $1 billion to build an air traffic surveillance system that FAA hopes will reduce flight delays and enhance safety as the skies get more crowded.

The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, a key component of FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System, replaces a radar system with a global navigation satellite system. ADS-B, which FAA has operated in Alaska and Ohio, relies on the Global Positioning System and ground systems to pinpoint aircraft locations.

“This signals a new era of air traffic control,” said Bobby Sturgell, FAA’s deputy administrator. “ADS-B — and, in turn, NextGen — will attack the delay problem head on by dramatically increasing air traffic efficiency.”

The $1.8 billion contract lasts for 18 years, from 2007 to 2025. Under FAA’s plans, ITT will have the system ready for deployment by 2010 and be able to cover the country by 2013.

In addition to the air traffic displays, ADS-B will give pilots graphical weather information, terrain maps and flight information. It is nearly 10 times more accurate than radar, Sturgell said.

For the first time, pilots and air traffic controllers will see the same real-time displays of air traffic, FAA said. Pilots will gain better situational awareness because they will have a more accurate picture of where they are and the aircraft in the air around them. The precise tracking by the modernized system will increase capacity because more aircraft will be able to fly closer to one another, he said.

ITT will build the ADS-B ground stations and own and operate the equipment. FAA will pay subscription charges for ADS-B broadcasts transmitted to properly equipped aircraft and air traffic control facilities.

Raytheon and Lockheed Martin also vied for the lucrative contract. ITT’s team includes AT&T, Thales, WSI, Science Applications International Corp., PricewaterhouseCoopers, Aerospace Engineering, Sunhillo, Comsearch, Mission Critical Solutions, Pragmatics, Washington Consulting Group, Aviation Communication and Surveillance Systems, NCR, L-3 Avionics Systems, and Sandia Aerospace.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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