ATC Centers Get New Com System

 - September 27, 2006, 10:59 AM

The FAA has finished deploying at all 20 en route centers a new communications gateway that processes radar and flight data and eliminates problems that bedeviled the previous system. Called en route communications gateway (ECG), it eliminates the possibility of a system-wide outage by removing the single point of failure that existed in what the FAA called the peripheral adapter module replacement item (PAMRI).

Lockheed Martin and major subcontractor Sunhillo of Berlin, N.J., provided the systems, installation, integration and test for the ECG program.

The ECG consolidates all gateway functions into a single system, allowing all National Airspace System components to communicate seamlessly and securely. It provides the foundation to support new communications sources and new radar/surveillance sources such as ADS-B. The design also enables the ECG to adapt to modern technologies such as the communication technology Internet providers use.

The design of the new system will allow for easy integration with the FAA’s en route automation modernization (ERAM) program, a key element in the agency’s overall air traffic modernization effort. ERAM will redesign and modernize the current Host computer platform, the core automation system in the en route environment. Currently, the FAA plans to begin deployment of ERAM in 2009.

The ECG replaces PAMRI using modern communications protocols and modular, scalable hardware components. PAMRI was a single point of failure in the en route air traffic control system.

“This communications gateway is designed to head off system outages at the pass,” said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. “Whenever you eliminate a single point of failure, you’re taking a huge step forward.”

The ECG went operational in Seattle in 2003. The final site to go operational was Miami in October.