The FAA has taken a major step in its much-delayed en route air traffic control upgrade by beginning operational use of the new system at six major FAA centers across the U.S.
The en route automation modernization (ERAM) system achieved initial operating capability (IOC) at the six centers in December and January. The last two centers in this group, Los Angeles and Oakland, reached IOC status on the weekend of Jan. 28, an agency spokesman tells Aviation Week. The other four are Albuquerque, Chicago, Denver and Minneapolis. Previously, ERAM was operational only at the two initial sites in Seattle and Salt Lake City.
ERAM will be the backbone operating system at all FAA en route centers, and is considered a vital precursor to NextGen. IOC means that the systems are being trialed for limited periods that gradually will be extended until the agency is ready to declare them ready for full-time operation. So far, only the two initial deployments in Seattle and Salt Lake City have reached that point.
The FAA has been forced to delay the ERAM deployment several times as glitches took longer than expected to address. The agency now plans to have the system operational at 20 FAA centers by the end of 2014, four years later than originally scheduled.
Under a timetable revision in the middle of 2010, the FAA said it would achieve IOC at five sites–in addition to the first two–by Sept. 30. It missed this target, partly due to the agency’s temporary shutdown in July caused by a congressional dispute. The agency then set a goal of reaching IOC at six sites by the end of December. It attained this goal for three of the six, with the remainder slipping into January.
By Adrian Schofield
February 3rd, 2012