Lockheed to develop FAA's new en route radar comms gateway

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Lockheed Martin has won a $125 million FAA contract to provide a replacement system for the main communications gateway the agency uses to distribute radar from radar sites to its en route air traffic control centers.

Under the contract Lockheed Martin will develop and field the en route communications gateway (ECG) system to replace the peripheral adapter module replacement item (PAMRI) system it now uses to process radar data for the air route traffic control centers (ARTCCs) that control en route traffic in the USA.

The FAA says the ECG system will increase safety margins by reducing ARTCC radar feed outages and will be easier to maintain than the dated PAMRI system. The FAA introduced PAMRI a decade ago as an interim replacement for a 1960s system and has now been running for far longer than the agency originally planned.

It plans to install ECG system equipment at all 21 ARTCCs in the continental USA and Alaska, as well as at the FAA Academy In Oklahoma City and the FAA technical Center in Atlantic City.

Seattle’s ARTCC will be the first en route center to receive the ECG system, with installation planned for the summer of 2003. Completion of installation at all sites is scheduled for mid-2005.

At present PAMRI serves as a critical primary component of the US air traffic control system, serving as the sole gateway for data from radar sites to the en route centers, the sole interface for exchange among the ARTCCs of flight plan data from external sources, and a primary means of transferring data among systems within the centers.

ECG, however, will consolidate other gateways along with the PAMRI functions into a single communications domain, allowing all US airspace system domains to communicate seamlessly and securely.

The new system will contain some functions of older systems and will also provide the US foundation for new air traffic management communications and radar/surveillance sources such as automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B).

It will also support external interfaces as they are introduced, using non-proprietary, commercial off-the-shelf products wherever possible.

The FAA says the decision to replace PAMRI was driven by a clear requirement on the part of its Air Traffic Services organization for increased amounts of radar sensor data at each en route center, along with the capability to receive data from a wider range of radar sensor types.