Air Traffic Control:

Advanced Automation System Still Vulnerable to Cost and Schedule Problems

RCED-92-264: Published: Sep 18, 1992. Publicly Released: Oct 23, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Advanced Automation System (AAS), focusing on: (1) cost and schedule changes; (2) effects of delays; and (3) factors that could further increase costs and delays.

GAO found that: (1) the estimated cost of the system has doubled since its inception in 1983; (2) cost increases since the contract's signing are due primarily to changing system requirements; (3) implementation and completion of the system have been delayed 5 and 6 years respectively; (4) delays have been caused by changes in system requirements and software development problems; (5) because of the delays, FAA must continue to rely on aging hardware and software that could malfunction and reduce the margin of safety, and FAA has also implemented costly interim projects to sustain the old air traffic control (ATC) system; (6) ultimate users of the ATC system are losing projected benefits in lower fuel costs and time savings; (7) unrealistic scheduling of system production has caused compressed testing activities and delayed software development until after production decisions have been made; (8) FAA is planning to test one component's work stations prior to its production decision in response to previous GAO recommendations, and has developed an AAS demonstration facility; (9) FAA has not yet decided on the number of facilities that will receive AAS, or delivered a facility consolidation plan to Congress, which is needed for funding estimates and a component's design; (10) user interface requirements have not been resolved and will affect the program's progress; (11) storage space for AAS equipment at facilities has not been established; and (12) packaging AAS as just one project limits oversight by the appropriate officials.