Harris, ITT picked for FAA NexCom development phase

Harris Corp. and ITT Industries Inc. have been chosen by the Federal Aviation Administration to develop competing prototypes for the agency's Next Generation Air/Ground Communications System, called NexCom. The selection was announced Wednesday.

The two companies will spend the next 20 months on phase one of the project, the Rapid Preliminary Development Effort. The Harris contract is for $21 million, while ITT has been awarded $16 million.

During the development phase, the competitors will produce the architecture, equipment specifications and supporting technical documents, and develop engineering design models of NexCom's ground network systems and use them to demonstrate a specified set of capabilities.

NexCom will integrate data links with digital voice capabilities, make more efficient use of the available frequency spectrum, and support continued air traffic growth by accommodating additional air traffic control sectors and new runways, according to an FAA statement. The use of digital technology also will allow the integration of advanced security processes and technology. Today's existing air-ground communications system has been used for air traffic control for more than 50 years.

At the end of the 20-month period, the FAA will likely select one vendor for full-scale development, scheduled to begin in 2005. Harris officials estimated that this second phase could be worth as much as $400 million by 2012.

Harris, based in Melbourne, Fla., is leading a team that includes Raytheon Co., Lexington, Mass.; Computer Sciences Corp., El Segundo, Calif.; Lockheed Martin Corp., Bethesda, Md.; Rockwell Collins Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Avidyne Corp., Lincoln, Mass.

Joining ITT on its team for the development effort are Northrop Grumman Corp., Los Angeles; the Fortier Group Inc., Carlsbad, Calif.; JDA Aviation Technology Solutions, Washington, D.C.; Computer Networks and Solutions Inc., Springfield, Va.; Operational Technologies Services Inc., Vienna, Va.; and Honeywell Aerospace Electronic Systems, Redmond, Wash., a division of Honeywell International Inc., Morristown, N.J.

(Updated Feb. 5, 2003, 5:28 p.m.)

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