ADS-B Update: Three Firms Qualify To Bid

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Last week's FAA announcement that three firms had qualified to bid on the ADS-B portion of the agency's planned Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) brings closer -- or pushes further, depending on your cynicism level -- the date by which the U.S. ATC and air navigation system is modernized. The firms' identities should come as no real surprise: Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon and ITT were selected by the agency’s Joint Resources Council (JRC), a team of top FAA executives that reviews major acquisitions, and were approved to proceed toward the next phase of NGATS implementation. That phase is segment two of ADS-B implementation, which runs from 2009 to 2014. Segment one involves installing ADS-B at Philadelphia, Louisville, and Juneau, along with new stations on oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Segment one also includes the expansion of ADS-B broadcast services along the East Coast, throughout North Dakota, and along the lower part of the U.S. to Arizona and through Southern California. In addition, it involves the development of ADS-B separation standards and software to interface between ADS-B and other air traffic control systems. Presumably, ADS-B segment two involves nationwide expansion of the technology, but the FAA's fact sheet and Web site were silent on its exact nature.

In July, after the contract is negotiated, the FAA's JRC will review the business model in the proposed contract and, presuming a "go-ahead" decision, the agency will award the contract for establishing the ADS-B ground infrastructure and providing broadcast services. To achieve last week's three-company selection, the FAA's ADS-B program office released a Screening Information Request on Nov. 30, 2006, to solicit potential vendors. The JRC's review of the submitted proposals resulted in the three companies being selected to participate in further activities leading to the contract award. Additionally, the JRC approved moving the Alaska Capstone project into the national ADS-B program, as well as expanding Capstone services within the state. According to the FAA, combining Capstone with the national ADS-B program ensures that development of the Alaska aviation infrastructure will be on par with the national infrastructure as developed in the lower 48 states.