Lockheed Martin System in Operation Ahead of Schedule at Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center
LEESBURG, VA, May 6th, 2002 -- An advanced air traffic system developed by Lockheed Martin to improve the direct routing of aircraft was put into operational use one month early at the Federal Aviation Administration's Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), becoming the sixth site to begin operations on the system ahead of schedule. The User Request Evaluation Tool Core Capability Limited Deployment (URET CCLD) system detects potential conflicts with other aircraft up to 20 minutes in advance and can determine if pilot requested changes to a flight plan are free of conflicts with other air traffic. This allows for more strategic planning by controllers, enables more direct routing of aircraft or deviations to avoid adverse weather and permits changes in altitude to take advantage of favorable winds. The URET CCLD system saves time, money and fuel for airlines and travel time for passengers, while continuing to ensure safe separation of aircraft. Prior to the new system, controllers relied on paper flight strips and mental calculations to determine if a proposed route change would be safe.
The URET CCLD system is one of five Free Flight Phase 1 programs designed to deliver significant, measurable capacity and efficiency improvements to a limited number of field sites by 2003. The system is now operational at six ARTCCs: Kansas City, Memphis, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. URET CCLD will be deployed to the remaining 14 ARTCCs by 2005.
"This tool is one more example of how government and industry can team up to pay dividends directly to the passenger," said John Thornton, FAA's director of Free Flight Programs. "This was a mammoth undertaking. The controllers, the technicians and Lockheed Martin made it happen, and they made it happen early."
In addition to predicting aircraft-to-aircraft conflicts, URET continuously monitors aircraft conformance to filed flight plans. It also issues a controller alert 40 minutes in advance of when an aircraft is predicted to penetrate restricted or prohibited airspace.
A prototype of the URET system, developed by the Mitre Center for Advanced Aviation Systems Development, has been in use at the Indianapolis and Memphis ARTCCs, where measurable savings to airlines have exceeded $18 million per year. The FAA awarded Lockheed Martin a $204 million contract to fully develop URET in September 1999. Since then, Lockheed Martin has developed and tested over 600,000 lines of software code and integrated the system with two other major operational En Route National Airspace Systems, the Host system and the Display System Replacement (DSR). Both of these systems, also developed by Lockheed Martin, were simultaneously receiving their own planned enhancements and modifications to support URET. This type of complex integration is unprecedented in the FAA with systems of this size, as is the ahead-of-schedule performance. Lockheed Martin also is responsible for URET training, hardware design and installation, and user support and maintenance at the ARTCCs.
"URET CCLD has been an exceptionally complex program requiring incredible cooperation and coordination between many FAA organizations and contractors," said Sue Corcoran, vice president of North American Programs for Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management. "Past upgrades to single systems have been likened to changing the tires on a race car traveling at 120 miles per hour. Make that merging a new race car onto a single lane track while changing the tires on two other race cars moving at 120 miles per hour and you have URET CCLD integrated with Host and DSR. Hats off to the FAA for its third in a row En Route success in the same number of years." Transition to URET CCLD at the Washington ARTCC was particularly significant because it occurred during a peak traffic load period in the early afternoon. "The Washington controller team made it look easy," said Corcoran.
Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management has four decades' experience in delivering advanced air traffic management solutions to customers worldwide, and focuses on systems integration, engineering design, development, test, delivery and support of Communications, Navigation, Surveillance (CNS/ATM) systems. A registered ISO 9001 company, Air Traffic Management employs approximately 1,300 people at major facilities in Rockville, Atlantic City, N.J., Eagan, Minn., and Southampton, England.