What Lies Over The Horizon at FAA

What Lies Over The Horizon at FAA<@VM>FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure<@VM>Next Generation Air/Ground Communications System<@VM>Advanced Technology and Oceanic Procedures

by Carole Shifrin

Upcoming contract opportunities at the Federal Aviation Administration, outlined by agency officials and market research firm Federal Sources Inc. of McLean, Va., include these blockbusters:

Next Generation Messaging System

The agency expects to release a request for proposals soon for a new electronic mail system for its 50,000 employees nationwide. The FAA wants a replacement system within the next 18-24 months since Lotus will no longer be supporting its existing system. The FAA's acquisition plan includes an operational capability demonstration. Steven Zaidman, associate administrator for research and acquisitions, had no immediate estimate of the total value of the contract.

"We don't know," he said. "We'll see what the vendors come up with."
This huge program will replace FAA-owned and leased telecommunications assets that reach the end of their life expectancy or end of their contracts between 2002 and 2005. The contract will affect operations at more than 5,000 facilities, replacing more than 35,000 circuits, upgrading switching and routing services, improving network monitoring and control, and providing network engineering services.

The agency is close to issuing its final screening for information requests and expects to conduct capability assessments in the first two months of 2001, awarding a contract by the end of July. Valued at about $1.9 billion, the program is attracting some big-name interest. Potential primes, each with numerous team members, are Harris Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and WorldCom Inc.A $1 billion program, NEXCOM will replace analog equipment with digital voice and data air-to-ground capability at all FAA facilities, starting with the en route air traffic control centers, according to Zaidman. The agency has scheduled an operations capability demonstration at its technical center in Atlantic City, N.J., to look at available technology and assess vendor capability, and expects to issue a request for proposals later this year.

Contract award is scheduled for next year, with commissioning of systems to take place over five to six years starting in mid-2003. Potential bidders include Harris, AT&T Corp., Lockheed Martin, Lucent Technologies Inc., WorldCom, Motorola Inc., Raytheon Co., Sprint Corp. and Unisys Corp.This $1.2 billion program will provide an advanced automated system for route planning of oceanic air traffic and coordination and interface with countries across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The system, using satellite technology and digital display capability, is designed to replace the paper flight strip operation now in use at the New York, Oakland, Calif., and Anchorage, Alaska, oceanic centers to track aircraft movements.

FAA evaluation teams, including controllers, are evaluating two systems offered by team leaders ARINC Inc. and Lockheed Martin.

"We intend to acquire one of those two commercially available products," Zaidman said. "It may need some tailoring, but we expect to do this early next year."

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