Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt formed an independent review panel that will examine the November 19, 2009 outage of the FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI). The panel of experts will survey the FTI’s architecture and deliver two reports early next year focusing on first the November outage and, second, examine FTI’s present and future architecture as it relates to emerging technology and future FAA systems.
The FTI system operates 24 hours a day seven days a week and provides communication support for the National Airspace System. It has been subject to a number of outages in recent years.
The first report will make recommendations for immediate changes needed to increase the reliability of the FTI system, management procedures, or oversight. The panel will also review the management of the system to ensure the most stringent protocols and safeguards are in place.
“Last month’s outage was unacceptable and we need to understand what happened and make certain it doesn’t happen again,” said Babbitt. “This panel is going to take a hard look at every part of the FTI operation. We have an extremely reliable system but we need to have the confidence that problems can be solved quickly and efficiently so our air traffic controllers and aircraft operators have the tools they need and travelers aren’t inconvenienced.”
Last month’s four hour outage did not affect critical safety systems or public safety. Air traffic controllers’ radar remained in operation and controllers were able to communicate with aircraft. The National Airspace Data Interchange Network (NADIN) which processes flight planning data was affected because it relied on the FTI services. During the outage, air traffic controllers managed flight plan data manually and safely according to FAA contingency plans.
Panel members include: Amr ElSawy, President and CEO of Noblis, a nonprofit science, technology and strategy organization; Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra; Department of Transportation Chief Information Officer (CIO) Nitin Pradhan; FAA CIO Dave Bowen; and the FAA’s Air Traffic Control Organization CIO Steve Cooper.