ITT lands FAA air traffic control system

ITT Corp. has landed a Federal Aviation Administration contract that could be worth more than $1 billion to build a new air traffic surveillance system, besting two major systems integrators that had also bid on the contract.

The system is the cornerstone of FAA's plan to reduce flight delays and enhance safety as the skies get more crowded.

The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, a key component of FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System, replaces a radar system with a global navigation satellite system. ADS-B, which FAA has operated in Alaska and Ohio, relies on the Global Positioning System and ground systems to pinpoint aircraft locations.

"This signals a new era of air traffic control," said Bobby Sturgell, FAA's deputy administrator. "ADS-B ? and, in turn, NextGen ? will attack the delay problem head on by dramatically increasing air traffic efficiency."

The initial contract is for three years, with a value of $207 million. ITT is responsible for system integration and engineering. If the FAA exercises all of the optional extensions, ITT could operate and maintain the system through September 2025 and the contract could be worth $1.86 billion. Under FAA's plans, ITT will have the system ready for deployment by 2010 and be able to cover the country by 2013.

The FAA picked the ITT team over teams led by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co. ITT teammates include AT&T, Thales, WSI, Science Applications International Corp., PricewaterhouseCoopers, Aerospace Engineering, Sunhillo, Comsearch, Mission Critical Solutions, Pragmatics, Washington Consulting Group, Aviation Communication and Surveillance Systems, NCR, L-3 Avionics Systems and Sandia Aerospace.

In addition to the air traffic displays, ADS-B will give pilots graphical weather information, terrain maps and flight information. It is nearly 10 times more accurate than radar, Sturgell said.

For the first time, pilots and air traffic controllers will see the same real-time displays of air traffic, FAA said. Pilots will gain better situational awareness because they will have a more accurate picture of where they are and the aircraft in the air around them. The precise tracking by the modernized system will increase capacity because more aircraft will be able to fly closer to one another, he said.

ITT will build the ADS-B ground stations and own and operate the equipment. FAA will pay subscription charges for ADS-B broadcasts transmitted to properly equipped aircraft and air traffic control facilities.

Mary Mosquera writes for Government Computer News and Federal Computer Week, 1105 Government Information Group publications.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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