FAA confirms ATOP oceanic control award intent

Washington DC
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Federal Aviation Administration officials confirm the agency intends to award a major contract to upgrade its oceanic air traffic control systems to a consortium containing Lockheed Martin.

An FAA spokeswoman says that although the agency expects to award the advanced technologies and oceanic procedures (ATOP) contract officially in June, “our intent is to award it to Lockheed Martin”.

Although she says that until the contract is signed, “things could change”, the spokeswoman confirms the FAA is planning to announce soon the decision to award the ATOP contract to a consortium containing Airways New Zealand, Lockheed Martin and Canada’s Adacel Technologies.

One year ago today the FAA narrowed the ATOP bidding competition down to two consortia, the Lockheed Martin team and a group led by ARINC and containing Airservices Australia, Airsys ATM, Harris and Sensis.

ARINC had originally proposed to the FAA in 1996 the idea of taking over its oceanic control functions, at a time when the US agency was becoming increasingly embarrassed by its failure to match small the abilities of Pacific nations to introduce advanced Free Flight-capable air traffic management systems for oceanic control.

The ATOP contract is estimated to be worth about $200 million but could be worth much more over the long term to the winning consortium by giving it a leading position in bidding for other air traffic management upgrade deals internationally.