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.
Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System
Prime contractor Raytheon and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration have finished installing the standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars) at the first of 11 large terminal radar approach control (Tracon) facilities in the U.S. Air traffic controllers at the Dallas/Fort Worth Tracon started “continuous operation” with Stars ahead of schedule in early May, Raytheon announced at the Paris Air Show last month.
The Raytheon standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars) began continuous operations in early May at the Dallas-Fort Worth terminal radar approach control (Tracon) facility, the first of 11 large Tracons in the U.S. to manage air traffic continuously using the new ATC automation system.
The U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon a $50.6 million engineering and manufacturing development contract to build mobile ATC systems capable of providing approach control guidance to military and other aircraft operating within a terminal airspace area. Raytheon will supply 19 mobile systems under the service’s deployable radar approach control (D-Rapcon) program; the overall contract value is approximately $400 million.
Raytheon’s funding of the deployment of satellite-based surveillance at the largest terminal ATC facilities in the U.S. is a good example of the type of public/private partnership needed to advance the country’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), according to the U.S. group.
Although the FAA has finally commissioned its first standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars), the agency has drastically reduced the number of systems it plans to install at the nation’s airports. And that has caused some people to question the FAA’s commitment to ATC modernization.
Even though the FAA’s new standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars) has begun a nationwide “road show” in a 28-ft-long van, the Transportation Department’s inspector general has warned Congress that deploying Stars within the current estimated cost and schedule “remains at risk.”
Raytheon said it achieved initial operating capability (IOC) for a second limited-production version of its new standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars) at the Tracon facility serving Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Windsor Locks, Conn.
In a report prepared for several members of Congress, the General Accounting Office (GAO) said the FAA’s standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars) “bears little resemblance to the program envisioned in 1996.”
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