IG Calls NextGen Implementation Confusing
The Department of Transportation’s inspector general (IG) released an update last month on the FAA’s progress with the standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars), the program to modernize terminal ATC equipment. The IG report identified a number of problem areas slowing Stars implementation caused by early, as yet unresolved, hardware and software delays that have put the entire program in jeopardy. Slow initial Stars development forced the FAA to develop an interim solution called the common automated radar terminal system (Carts), designed to keep current ATC radar systems operating until Stars becomes operational, now expected in 2017. The IG audit revealed the FAA has not yet figured out how to transition from Carts to Stars even if the new system was operational. The IG also noted a number of inconsistent time-line milestones the FAA established for the 2017 Stars launch. “It remains unclear how and when the FAA will accomplish all the [documented] tasks necessary to implement Stars at 11 [major] sites,” the IG said. The FAA plan also calls for work to continue on Stars right up through 2017, but has approved a cost baseline that runs only through 2015. Funding for the final two years of Stars construction is undetermined.