The US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) $2.4bn En Route Automation Modernization, or ERAM project, carried out by Lockheed Martin is scheduled to be completed within its revised budget and 2014 deadline.
The projects aims to replace the 45-year-old computer systems at the 20 of the agency’s air-traffic control (ATC) centres, helping air- traffic control centres track double the number of planes.
The project has overcome early problems, which led to a three-year delay and rise in cost of about $300m, Bloomberg reported citing FAA chief Michael Huerta.
According to the agency, the project is the major part of a $40bn NextGen initiative, which is aimed at transforming the country’s air-traffic system with new satellite-based technologies, replacing older radar-based solutions.
The new system, through radar information, is expected to enable tracking of about 1,900 aircraft simultaneously, a rise from 1,100, and process data from 64 radar sites, from the current 24.
The new system has been operating at the agency’s quarter of the ATCs which include Salt Lake City, Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
ERAM has also been installed and is under test in Chicago, Oakland, California; Los Angeles and Houston, while, New York, Kansas City and Boston are scheduled to be equipped with the system by late 2012.
FAA’s remaining eight ATCs in Indianapolis, Washington, Cleveland, Atlanta, Miami, Memphis, Tennessee; Fort Worth, Texas; and Jacksonville, Florida, are expected to commence operations by the end of 2013, with final, continuous operations at all 20 ATCs expected by August 2014.
Features of ERAM include ADS-B, a satellite-based programme, which enables improved accuracy to track aircraft; DataComm, allows controllers to deliver cockpit commands digitally; and the system wide information management offers a common platform for examining studying disturbances to both the FAA and airlines.
ERAM "really is fundamental for working with the whole suite of NextGen programs," Huerta said.
The ERAM contract was originally awarded to Lockheed Martin in 2002 and was expected to be completed in the first quarter of fiscal 2011 at a rate of $2.1bn.
Image: ERAM is anticipated to increase the simultaneous tracking of planes by the FAA’s ATC centres to two times from the earlier radar based system. Photo: courtesy of the US Department of Transportation.