The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected a Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management team over ARINC to provide the US aviation agency's next-generation satellite-based transoceanic air traffic management (ATM) system.

The $200 million Advanced Technologies and Oceanic Procedures (ATOP) deal, which has been the subject of a protracted evaulation process, will modernise the FAA's oceanic ATM system, using advanced commercial off-the-shelf equipment installed in air route traffic control centres (ARTCCs) at Oakland, California; Anchorage, Alaska and New York. The two-year contract is expected to be finalised in June.

The current oceanic ATM system has limited capabilities, forcing large separations between aircraft and inefficient flight profiles.

ATOP will integrate flight data processing, radar data processing, controller-pilot data link communications (CPDLC), automatic dependent surveillance (ADS), interfacility data communications and electronic flight data capabilities.

Lockheed Martin's team includes Adacel Technologies and Airways Corporation of New Zealand. Adacel's Datapath oceanic ATM system is operational in New Zealand and the US system will be based on that country's oceanic ATM. Datapath has also been adopted by Iceland and Portugal.

ARINC, teamed with Airservices Australia, Airsys ATM Australia, Harris and Sensis, had offered its Global Communications and Advanced Tracking (GlobalCAT) system, which is based on the Australian Advanced Air Traffic System. Ironically, it was ARINC which first approached the FAA in the mid-1990s about taking over its oceanic ATM.

The Lockheed Martin team was thought to offer "the best value and acceptable development risk" after US controllers operationally tested the competing ATM systems, which began about a year ago. The FAA said market research showed that the ATOPS function could be filled by several existing cost-effective, mature oceanic ATC solutions in operation outside the USA.

Source: Flight International