America's friendly skies are fast becoming crowded skies. But our current air traffic control system has already reached capacity. The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is a modernization of our national airspace system, starting with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology to improve the safety, capacity and efficiency of aviation while accommodating future air traffic growth.
Approximately 87,000 flights crisscross America's skies each day. According to the FAA, that number is projected to rise to over 128,000 flights per day by 2025. Unfortunately, the current ground-based radar air traffic control system that's served America so well for the last 60 years has hit the ceiling of its growth capacity. It simply cannot keep pace with expected demand. Without a radical system upgrade there will be gridlock in the skies-gridlock that would cost the U.S. economy $22 billion annually by 2022, according to FAA estimates.
Exelis ADS-B and NextGen Air Traffic Management
ADS-B is designed from the ground up to improve the safety and efficiency of U.S. air travel. Exelis was proud to be selected by the FAA to build, deploy and manage America's NextGen ADS-B system. Exelis met every FAA operational, functional and performance milestone while keeping the project on schedule and under budget. And we’re proud to have partnered with the FAA on implementation efforts needed to complete this vital and historic initiative by 2013.
And then there's the issue of safety.
The U.S. is currently enjoying the safest period in the history of aviation. But as more and more aircraft take to the skies, and new types of aircraft are introduced, it will be critically important for pilots - not just air traffic controllers - to know where their aircraft is located in relation to other aircraft throughout all phases of flight. Without a massive upgrade of our air traffic system, the safety of our increasingly crowded skies could be compromised.
NextGen is not an upgrade. It's a transformation.
NextGen is a wide-ranging transformation of America's national airspace system. At its most basic level, NextGen represents an evolution from a ground-based radar system of air traffic control to a satellite-based system of digital standards for air traffic management. More significant, however, is the movement away from disconnected and incompatible information systems to a scalable network-centric architecture in which everyone has easy access to the same information at the same time.
|Ground-based navigation and surveillance
||Satellite-based navigation and surveillance|
|Disconnected information systems
||Networked information systems|
|Disparate, fragmented weather forecast delivery system
|| Single, authoritative system in which forecasts are embedded into decisions|
|Airport operations limited by visibility
||Operations continue in lower visibility|
|Air traffic "control"
||Air traffic "management"|
When fully implemented, NextGen will safely allow more aircraft to fly closer together on more direct routes, reducing delays and providing unprecedented benefits for the environment and the economy through the reduction of carbon emissions, fuel consumption and noise.
At the heart of the NextGen system is a new technology: ADS-B, or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast.
The Exelis ADS-B Solution
The FAA knew what had to be accomplished under NextGen and knew that ADS-B was the cornerstone program of the initiative. They initiated a screening competition, asking prospective bidders to supply creative and innovative approaches on how to build and manage the system. The FAA narrowed the competitive field down to three bidders. Then, on August 30, 2007, the FAA announced the winner of a $1.8 billion contract to build and manage through 2025 the foundation of the nation's next generation air traffic management system. The winner, of course, was the Exelis ADS-B solution.
"The best value"
Exelis designed its ADS-B solution to be low-risk and high-performance—a solution that offered low life-cycle cost and full compliance with the letter and spirit of FAA service requirements. In making the award, Vincent Capezzuto, director of the FAA's ADS-B program, said that the Exelis proposal presented "the best value" and "no technical risks."
A blue-ribbon team
Exelis put together a blue-ribbon team to design, develop, maintain and operate this new system. Team members were chosen by Exelis based upon their unique experience and complementary skills.
||Prime contractor, system engineering and integration, control station software development, radio station integration, system deployment, system operations and maintenance|
|Thales, SELEX Systems Integration
|| Radios, multi-sensor tracker|
||Weather service provider|
||Service Delivery Point (SDP) equipment|
||Software development support|
Together with our other team members we are the low-risk, high-performance solution for ADS-B.
The Exelis essential services architecture
Exelis has deployed 634 ground stations, three data control stations at AT&T Data Hosting Centers for message processing, and two network operations centers (the primary in Herndon, VA, and a backup center in Middletown, NJ) to run the system and provide redundancy. ADS-B data will be delivered to the FAA at 271 Service Delivery Points located at FAA Air Traffic Control facilities (Towers, TRACONs and En-Route Centers).
While the physical architecture of the Exelis-designed ABS-B system is relatively straightforward, the underlying subsystem architecture of the Exelis technical solution for spectrum management, wireless engineering and spectral efficiency is anything but. The Exelis solution provides:
- A flexible, scalable, safe and secure system architecture.
- Technical features to include multi-channel radios with power control features, sectorized antennas, data distribution algorithms, and system-siting to ensure the ability to operate within the current and future spectrum environment.
- Systems, processes and personnel to ensure very high system availability.
- A large number of radio stations assuring system radio frequency coverage are provided where required.
- At the core of the Exelis architecture is safety through reliability and redundancy. Every system from the ground stations to the processing stations, to the weather data center to the service delivery points and all the communication links between them, has been designed for maximum efficiency and reliability. Everything is backed up, and backed up again, to prevent any possibility of failure.
ADS-B Program Contacts:
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