Up, up and .... away?

Steve LeSueur

The Federal Aviation Administration faces one of the most difficult
systems integration tasks imaginable: Upgrade the nation's air traffic control system, and do it in a way that satisfies pilots, air traffic controllers, commercial airlines and military users, local airport authorities and Congress.

"I worked on the Apollo program [and] the space shuttle program," said Jack Clemons, a senior vice president with Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Air Traffic Management unit. "The complexity of air traffic control programs are a magnitude of difficulty more."

That difficulty is highlighted in a new inspector general's report detailing 20 major FAA modernization programs that are behind schedule, over budget ? or both.

Staff Writer Patience Wait spoke with FAA officials and executives from the companies chasing billions of dollars in IT business with the agency. Despite past problems, they are optimistic the FAA and it contractors can get their high-profile programs back on track. Patience's front-page story has the details of their plan.


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