FAA to spend another $57 million on Stars

The Federal Aviation Administration awarded Raytheon Co. a $57 million contract option to continue deployment of the new color display Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, or Stars, a joint procurement between FAA and the Defense Department.

Contract options include production and deployment of 14 systems for the FAA and nine for the Defense Department, as well as logistics and support, including training, maintenance and testing, the Lexington, Mass., company said.

Stars is an open-architecture air-traffic automation system that offers high-resolution color displays, new computer processing and communications equipment. Features include a six-level display of weather conditions, multiradar tracking and easy incorporation of new hardware and software.

Air-traffic controllers use Stars at 31 FAA and 21 Defense Department sites. But aging displays are still in use at many other major airport towers and regional air-traffic facilities.

FAA still needs to decide on what technology it will use to complete terminal modernization based on cost, time and capabilities, said Transportation Inspector General Kenneth Mead in congressional testimony earlier this month. The dependability of aging displays at four large sites, including Chicago and Denver, are of most concern.

"Displays at Denver, for example, are locking up randomly. This problem has occurred more than 100 times in the last three and one-half years, and is now occurring a little over once a week," Mead told lawmakers.

Last year, FAA cut its commitment to just 47 Stars sites at a cost of $1.46 billion. Cost overruns and delays had forced FAA into an incremental approach. The agency originally budgeted $940 million to upgrade 172 sites.

The agency now is considering whether to retain the Common Automated Radar Terminal System at facilities where it is installed, rather than upgrading to Stars. Common ARTS provides many of Stars' functions, but most sites with Common ARTS still have aging displays. FAA had planned to install the new displays when it upgraded sites to Stars.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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