FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt has commissioned an independent review panel to examine the 19 November telecommunications outage that lasted four hours and wreaked havoc on airline operations.

The FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) system supplies 24-hour support seven days a week and provides communications support for the US National Airspace System.

A group of experts has been assembled to scrutinise the outage, and make recommendations to improve the reliability of the FTI infrastructure. The panel is scheduled to deliver two reports to Babbitt early in 2010. FAA says the first report is focusing on the outage, and suggestions for immediate changes for FTI systems, management and oversight. The second is examining the FTI's current and future architecture and its relationship to new technology and FAA's future systems.

"Last month's outage was unacceptable and we need to understand what happened and make certain it doesn't happen again," says Babbitt. "This panel is going to take a hard look at every part of the FTI operation. We have an extremely reliable system but we need to have the confidence that problems can be solved quickly and efficiently so our air traffic controllers and aircraft operators have the tools they need and travelers aren't inconvenienced."

FAA stresses that the outage did not affect critical safety systems, and when it occured controllers manually managed flight plan data according to FAA contingency plans.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news