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Thu, Mar 06, 2003

FAA Selects Lockheed Martin for Third WAAS Link

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management (Rockville, MD), for Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) satellite leased communication services. As the FAA moves towards implementation of satellite navigation, these services will provide increased availability of WAAS for instrument approaches across a majority of the national airspace system.

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This initial contract is worth $34 million, including a $12 million task order to start the work. The total contract value could amount to $597 million if additional satellite services are ordered. This was a competitive procurement that ultimately led to a team that consists of Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Corp. and Boeing Co. The initial contract permits Lockheed Martin to proceed with the design and development of the ground stations. 

The FAA is developing WAAS to provide increased safety and capacity in navigation and landing to allow for additional precision approach capability without additional ground infrastructure. WAAS, which is made up of a system of satellites and ground reference stations, improves the accuracy and the integrity of the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) signals.

The FAA currently leases communications transponders on two Inmarsat-III satellites, providing coverage over the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii. The additional geostationary satellite communication service increases the availability of the WAAS signal-in-space and makes the system more reliable. This means that pilots using the WAAS will have less chance of losing the signal during critical flight operations.

Acquisition of a third satellite leased communication service follows a recommendation from an independent review board study that concluded that it was too risky to depend on two satellites for the availability of the WAAS signal. A third geostationary satellite is needed to ensure that a single geostationary failure does not cause large-scale outages of service over the U.S.

This contract provides for a 24-month development of ground earth stations with the flexibility to procure up to three satellite leased communication services. It also will allow the FAA flexibility for procuring leased services that take into account changes in the constellation due to the satellite relocations, satellite failure, unplanned outages, as well as maintaining geostationary diversity and security. The FAA plans to have the first additional communications link operating on a geostationary satellite by 2006.

The FAA is currently conducting WAAS operational test and evaluation, and certification for instrument flight rule navigation in preparation for commissioning later this year. This latest satellite services acquisition, combined with the recent successes in the WAAS program, brings the FAA one step closer to full utilization of satellite navigation and is a significant step towards moving the agency into the future of navigation.

FMI: www.faa.gov; www.lockheedmartin.com; www.boeing.com; www.raytheon.com

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