Key Aspects of FAA's Plans To Acquire the Multi-Billion Dollar Advanced Automation System and Related Programs

IMTEC-85-11: Published: Jun 17, 1985. Publicly Released: Jun 17, 1985.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) efforts to acquire a more automated air traffic control system, including: (1) the Advanced Automation System (AAS) computer hardware and software replacement program; (2) the Automated En Route Air Traffic Control (AERA) program; and (3) the Mode S program.

GAO found that: (1) FAA will not perform some planned simulation tests of the advanced automated functions of AERA prior to including the specifications in the AAS acquisition contract; (2) FAA plans to test and validate AERA specifications are uncertain at this time; and (3) FAA lacked adequate information to make a sound and objective AAS production decision. GAO also found that: (1) FAA selected an acquisition strategy which called for concurrent full-scale development, testing, and production; (2) awarding the acquisition contract without adequately validating advanced automation functions could lead to higher costs, schedule delays, and deployment of a system that does not perform in an operational environment; (3) problems in developing test software prevented most of the simulation tests; and (4) FAA does not plan to complete development of the AAS or its subsystems or demonstrate system performance capabilities because it will base its acquisition decision on information the contractors develop during the design competition phase.