Contractor Says En Route Modernization Program On Target

 - October 25, 2012, 11:10 AM

The director of Lockheed Martin’s En-route Automation Modernization (Eram) program has said the system’s deployment across the on schedule and on budget since the FAA recalculated, or “re-baselined,” its cost and schedule in June last year.

TheFAAnow says the Eram deployment to 20 air route traffic control centers (ARTCCs) that manage high-altitude traffic will be completed in August 2014, nearly four years late, at an additional cost of $330 million. That would bring the overall program cost to $2.4 billion. However, in an audit report released on September 13, the Department of Transportation inspector general’s office said theFAAhas not “fully resolved” critical software problems that have delayed the program. TheIGreiterated a Mitre estimate that cost overruns could exceed $500million.

“A year or two before the re-baselining, the FAA commissioned Mitre to look at the program. That was their worst case,” Fran Hill, Lockheed Martin director of en-route, terminal and oceanic programs, toldAIN. “We are under contract and, given the collaboration that we have in place right now, I don’t see any reason why we’re not going to hold to that $330 million baseline.” Under the agreement negotiated with the FAAafter the program was re-baselined, she said, “We have risk associated with our profit if we don’t achieve all theFAA’s objectives.”

Eram, which replaces aging Host computers, is continuously operating at six ARTCCs–in Salt Lake City, Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, Albuquerque and Oakland–and has achieved or is close to achieving initial operational capability at three others. The fully operational systems are running Release 3 software, which integrates automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) aircraft position reports. Release 4 software, not part of the current Eram contract, would add the capabilities of ground-based interval management spacing and airbornereroutes.

In testimony before the House Aviation subcommittee on September 12,DOTIGCalvin Scovel said controllers and technicians at the nine ARTCCs using Eram have identified 900 “high-priority” software issues that need to be addressed. Hill said some 60 percent of software issues “end up being duplicates” across the sites. She said only 6 to 8 percent of reports represent new softwareproblems.

Hill said improved governance of the program by theFAA, and better collaboration among all parties, including the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, gives her confidence that Eram will meet its current targets. Her comments echoed those ofFAA acting administrator Michael Huerta, who told the House subcommittee that he believes “we’ve turned the corner” onEram.–B.C.