CSSI wins more airspace work

CSSI Inc. of Washington, D.C., was picked by the United States and United Nations to carve out more airspace in the crowded international skies.

The company won a five-year, $9 million contract to help the Federal Aviation Administration and the International Civil Aviation Organization implement new separation standards for air traffic.

CSSI will support the United States, Canada and Mexico as they simultaneously reduce the required vertical distance from 2,000 feet to 1,000 feet between aircraft flying at altitudes of between 29,000 feet and 41,000 feet. The "reduced vertical separation minimum," or RVSM, will provide six new flight levels, increasing airspace capacity while reducing flight delays and saving fuel. The RVSM requirement will take effect in January 2005 in the United States and South America.

The contract covers a range of activities "from the development of standards in the international community to the implementation of standards in a specific airspace," said Bob Miller, the company's director of airspace analysis and modeling. The company provides experts, such as mathematicians and pilots, to the FAA and ICAO.

"We develop the standards that the [aircraft] equipment needs to perform and the flight crews need to ensure that mathematically there is an acceptable risk of collision, or according to ICAO's definition, a target level of safety," he said.

Under the contract, CSSI also will help the FAA implement a 30-nautical-mile lateral and longitudinal separation standard in FAA-delegated Pacific airspace. The company will help ICAO, the aviation industry's international governing body, introduce a 50-nautical-mile lateral separation standard in the Caribbean. Civil aviation authorities use nautical miles, consisting of 2,000 yards, as the industry's standard distance measurement.

CSSI helps determine which new separation standard may be permitted by new technologies, such as automatic dependent surveillance and global positioning systems, Miller said. Both of these technologies enable separation standards to be reduced from 50 nautical miles to 30 nautical miles, he said.

As part of the contract, CSSI also will advise the FAA's representatives on ICAO's Separation and Airspace Safety Panel.

Under a previous award from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency announced in September, CSSI provides technical assistance to several South American and Caribbean countries that are implementing new vertical separation rules.

CSSI is a privately owned engineering and technical services firm that specializes in systems analysis and engineering, airspace initiatives and information and program management. It has provided support services for regional and domestic vertical separation projects and related services in the United States, Canada, the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific region, the South China Sea and Australia.

In addition to the FAA, the company's clients include the domestic and international aviation industries, the Defense Department and NASA. CSSI employs more than 200 workers and had 2003 revenue of approximately $20 million, Miller said.

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