FAA Awards Contract for Nationwide Data Network

The Harris Corp has been awarded the contract to provide the FAA with a next generation data network for Air Traffic Control (ATC).   Harris was competing with both Lockheed Martin and ITT Exelis for the lucrative contract, worth $332M over 7 years.  The contract also includes a year-by-year renewal clause that that lasts for ten years….this is not included in the estimated $330 million dollar value of the contract. (story provided by www.onlyexclusivetravel.com)

Harris was already, before the contract, the main contractor for the FAA’s data and voice infrastructure, and was thus considered a shoe-in to be awarded the work. This is similar to the situation back in August, where Harris  was awarded a contract potentially worth just under $300 million to replace legacy ATC voice switches.


The FAA cites the project as a crucial element of their  Next Generation Air Transport System program, which is intended to transform the air traffic control system to meet future growth.The overall goals of the program are to:

  • enable a more reliable ATC communication backbone that can scale with demand
  • save fuel and shorten flight times by enabling trajectory based routing of aircraft
  • ensure a more real-time approach to communications

John O’Sullivan, the VP of Mission Critical Networks for Harris summed it up well: “DCIS lays the groundwork for the move from traditional air traffic control to more active air traffic management…”

The FAA  plans to employ this technology in all of their major ATC towers by the year 2016 and then a separate rollout for smaller control centers in 2019.  Harris specified a cross-industry team to lead the project, with services and products from a variety of companies like American Airlines, ARINC, General Electric’s Aviation Division, and Thales. This team will perform both the overall integration as well as engineering for the data network that connects data links from ATC stations to aircraft.

The network will also leverage existing data facilities, provided by Arinc, that connect airline ops centers with aircraft.  Thales, a partner with Harris under the contract, is already working on a prototype for automation of  tower workflows that includes a high-tech display interface for the Data Comm Trial Automation Platform (DTAP) initiative.

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