FAA's $1 billion contract to ITT targets air traffic delays

The Federal Aviation Administration took a major step last week to reduce air traffic gridlock and enhance safety by awarding a $1.86 billion contract to ITT and its team to build a modern air traffic surveillance system.

The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast system will replace FAA’s outdated radar system with a global navigation satellite system, which will be the backbone of FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen. ADS-B relies on the Global Positioning and ground systems to pinpoint aircraft locations, said Robert Sturgell, FAA’s deputy administrator.

“This contract is a great leap into the future,” Sturgell said at an Aug. 30 news briefing to announce the contract. “ADS-B — and, in turn, NextGen — will attack the delay problem head-on by dramatically increasing air traffic efficiency.”

Under the 18-year contract, ITT must have a system ready for deployment by 2010 and be able to provide its services nationwide by 2013. FAA will pay $207 million in the first three years to develop and deploy the system. The remainder of the costs will be for subscription charges for services until 2025.

Precise tracking by the modernized system will increase capacity because more aircraft will be able to fly closer to one another, said Vincent Capezzuto, director of FAA’s Surveillance and Broadcast Services Program Office.

“For the first time, pilots and air traffic controllers will see the same real-time displays of air traffic,” Capezzuto said. Pilots will gain better situational awareness because they will have a more accurate picture of where their aircraft are and the aircraft in the airspace around them.

A stable funding stream is critical to the smooth implementation of ADS-B, Sturgell said. Congress must decide on reauthorizing appropriations for FAA by Sept. 30.

Lawmakers, including Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he welcomed the contract, but he also promised “vigorous oversight of the contract and others related to NextGen.”

ADS-B won’t reduce gridlock on its own, some critics say. The new system can’t solve the capacity problem that major airports are facing, said Douglas Church, a spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the union that represents controllers.

The air transportation system still needs more runways and air traffic controllers to reap the benefits of the satellite system, Church said. “It doesn’t matter how many extra planes you can put in the sky due to a NextGen system,” he said. “You still have to land somewhere.”

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group