SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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ALLEGATIONS OF COST OVERRUNS AND DELAYS IN THE FAA'S WIDE AREA AUGMENTATION SYSTEM (WAAS)
PLEASE NOTE: The following transcript is a portion of the official hearing record of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Additional material pertinent to this transcript may be found on the web site of the Committee at [http://www.house.gov/transportation]. Complete hearing records are available for review at the Committee offices and also may be purchased at the U.S. Government Printing Office.
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TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
OCTOBER 1, 1997
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTUCTURE
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania, Chairman
DON YOUNG, Alaska
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HERBERT H. BATEMAN, Virginia
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTHOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
JACK QUINN, New York
TILLIE K. FOWLER, Florida
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
SUE W. KELLY, New York
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
FRANK RIGGS, California
CHARLES F. BASS, New Hampshire
ROBERT W. NEY, Ohio
JACK METCALF, Washington
JO ANN EMERSON, Missouri
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
MERRILL COOK, Utah
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
CHARLES W. ''CHIP'' PICKERING, Jr., Mississippi
KAY GRANGER, Texas
JON D. FOX, Pennsylvania
THOMAS M. DAVIS, Virginia
FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
VITO FOSSELLA, New York
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
PAT DANNER, Missouri
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCORRINE BROWN, Florida
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
BOB FILNER, California
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
MAX SANDLIN, Texas
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
BILL PASCRELL, Jr., New Jersey
JAY W. JOHNSON, Wisconsin
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
JAMES P. McGOVERN, Massachusetts
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
Subcommittee on Aviation
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee, Chairman
ROY BLUNT, Missouri Vice Chairman
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTHOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
CHARLES F. BASS, New Hampshire
JACK METCALF, Washington
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
MERRILL COOK, Utah
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
CHARLES W. ''CHIP'' PICKERING, Jr., Mississippi
KAY GRANGER, Texas
JON D. FOX, Pennsylvania
THOMAS M. DAVIS, Virginia
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
VITO FOSSELLA, New York
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
PAT DANNER, Missouri
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
Boyer, Phil, President, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Dillingham, Gerald L., Associate Director, Transportation Issues, Resources, Community and Economic Development Division, U.S. General Accounting Office
Donohue, Dr. George, Associate Administrator for Research and Acquisitions, Federal Aviation Administration
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Landon, John R., Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Space Systems and Architectures, U.S. Department of Defense
Mead, Kenneth M., Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation
Parkinson, Bradford W., Professor, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University
Ryan, Jack, Vice President, Air Traffic Management, Air Transport Association of America
Weaver, John C., President and Chief Operating Officer, Hughes Aircraft Company
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Costello, Hon. Jerry F., of Illinois
Cramer, Hon. Bud, of Alabama
Fox, Hon. Jon D., of Pennsylvania
Poshard, Hon. Glenn, of Illnois
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
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Dillingham, Gerald L
Donohue, Dr. George
Landon, John R
Mead, Kenneth M
Parkinson, Bradford W
Weaver, John C
SUBMISSION FOR THE RECORD
Donohue, Dr. George, Associate Administrator for Research and Acquisitions, Federal Aviation Administration, chart, WAAS Prescision Approach AvailabilityPhase 3
ADDITIONS TO THE RECORD
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Nordwall, Bruce D., ''Solar Storms Threaten GPS Reception'', Aviation Week and Space Technology, December 1, 1997
U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Report to Congress, Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) Report on Program Status, Management, and Satellite Communications, January 1998
Johns, James C., GPS Product Team, AND-730, Satellite Navigation (SATNAV), charts
Request for Information, National Reconnaissance Office, Advanced Systems and Technology Directorate, December 15, 1997
ALLEGATIONS OF COST OVERRUNS AND DELAYS IN THE FAA'S WIDE AREA AUGMENTATION SYSTEM (WAAS)
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 1997
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Aviation,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
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The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:30 a.m. in room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John Duncan, Jr. (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. DUNCAN. We will go ahead and call the subcommittee to order.
I want, first of all, to say good morning and welcome to our second hearing to review the progress of the FAA's Wide Area Augmentation System, or the WAAS program as it is commonly referred to. At our first hearing on this in June 1995, we discussed the importance of the WAAS program and the subcommittee stressed the interest of the members in keeping the program on schedule and on budget. I believe the FAA had just awarded the WAAS contract to Wilcox Electric at that time. Also at that time Dr. Donohue testified that expected work on the first phase of the contract was to be completed by early 1998. However, due to a number of problems, and 5 months after our original hearing, the FAA had canceled the WAAS contract with Wilcox and announced at that time that the program was at least 1 year behind schedule.
The staff of the subcommittee now tells me that the FAA estimates that WAAS will now cost approximately $958 million, which is a 59 percent increase from the 1994 estimate of $604 million. This concerns me greatly. It also is of great concern to many, many others, and I think I can speak for the concerns of all the members of the subcommittee when we hear about these cost increases and cost overruns in Federal programs. We have seen the cost of programs like the Superconducting Super Collider, the space station, the Advanced Automation System program, and many, many others that have been substantially underestimated by Federal agencies.
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We have many questions and concerns about the WAAS program, about the delays, the cost increases, and the risk that WAAS will continue to suffer from these delays and cost increases. We hope to hear today that the FAA is taking the proper steps to ensure that WAAS will not continue down this path. I certainly hope that WAAS becomes an essential program and a valuable program for the aviation industry so that we can get some benefit from all of these expenditures. I believe the benefits such as direct routing for commercial aviation users and landing aids for general aviation users are extremely important. However, if the cost of WAAS is going to continue to increase, it might reach a point that it just is not worth continuing the program, as we have seen in certain other programs and situations that I'm sure most of the people here today are familiar with.
To repeat just a little bit, I think the best summary of where we find ourselves now was contained in the briefing that was sent to all the subcommittee members. It says this, it says ''The Aviation Subcommittee held a hearing on the WAAS program 2 years ago. At that hearing, the FAA witness stated, 'We expect work on the first phase of the WAAS contract to be completed by early 1998.''' And then it goes into the cost overrun, the increase of 59 percent, the $958 million total cost. And it says, ''Several of the FAA's equipment replacement programs have experienced cost increases and delays in the past. The most dramatic was the program to replace the air traffic control computers and displays. This program was originally called the Advanced Automation System and was to be operational in 1993 at a cost of $2.5 billion. The program has been restructured so that many of the original functions have been dropped and it may cost over $7 billion and not be completed until after the year 2000.
''The Committee has followed the WAAS program with the hope that it would not fall prey to the problems of the Advanced Automation System. However, the cost of the WAAS program is increasing, it is 1 year behind its original schedule, and there are significant concerns that it will experience additional delays.''
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To sum up, I remember several years ago that what was then a very respected magazine in Washington called Regardies had an article about what was to later become the Ronald Reagan Building and it referred to that building as 'the billion dollar boondoggle'. Since we are now at a cost estimate of $958 million, I think the concern of this subcommittee and the concern of many, many people who are looking into this is that we need to do everything possible to make sure that the WAAS system does not become a billion dollar boondoggle.
So that is why we called this hearing today. I know this is a technical subject and does not have quite the glamour and pizazz I guess of many of the other hearings that we've held. But I regard this as a very, very important hearing today. I appreciate the witnesses who have come here to help us try to learn more about where we are, why we are where we are, and where we're headed now. I hope that together we can let WAAS meet its potential of becoming an integral and revolutionary program for the entire aviation industry.
With that, I will yield to my good friend, the distinguished Ranking Member of the subcommittee, Mr. Lipinski.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I particularly thank you for holding this hearing today. This hearing highlights the subcommittee's important oversight role. I believe it is one of the most important hearings that I will participate in not only this year, but in all the years that I have served on the Aviation Subcommittee, which started back in 1983 when I was first elected to Congress.
The Wide Area Augmentation System, or WAAS, has the great potential of allowing aircraft to navigate with the use of satellite technology. However, as we have seen in the past with FAA modernization efforts, the potential of technology unfortunately is not always realized.
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There are many questions and concerns surrounding the WAAS program. The WAAS program is in its early stages and already it has experienced cost overruns and delays. Many question if the benefits of WAAS are even worth the cost. Others question whether the technology that WAAS depends on will be available or reliable.
I look forward to hearing the testimony of our expert witnesses here today. Hopefully, throughout the course of today's hearings we can answer some of the pressing questions surrounding WAAS.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you very much, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Lipinski.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Good morning, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much. I greatly appreciate your holding this hearing on the question of cost overruns, delays, and the significance of the WAAS system. You and Mr. Lipinski have been very diligent about the oversight responsibilities of the subcommittee, and I'm very appreciative of your initiatives.
WAAS in its supportive role together with Global Positioning Satellite technology may become, I think in time will be seen, as the most important development in aviation since the jet engine. It was designed principally by the Defense Department for navigational purposes, but it has broad applications in civil aviation and a wide range of other arenas. There are rental cars, in fact, I was in one just this weekend, that use Global Positioning Satellite to guide you. You plug in your route and it shows up on a screen in the car, tells you where to go, where to stop, where to turn. It is used by farmers, it is used by rail companies. I've had a very interesting demonstration by two major rail lines of how they use Global Positioning Satellite. Backpackers use it in the wilderness to find their tracks. One of my staff members used it piloting her single engine aircraft to find an unmarked airfield in Bolivia.
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Can it work for civil aviation? Can it be a dependable system? I think the answer in the long run is this technology is important, yes, it can. Can we get the whole world community to join with us in using GPS for aviation? That is the real challenge ahead. Those are other problems that we'll have to address with the Defense Department at a future time.
But the question is making GPS safe. I flew the river route with the Honeywell-equipped aircraft a few years ago with the ground differential correcting system GPS, what will become the future of the DGPS with WAAS. We made at least seven adjustments on approach to National, automatically done receiving signals from the satellite, corrected on the ground, fired back up to the aircraft, two signal adjustments every second, and the aircraft landed directly on the center line. That is the kind of precision that you need. But the support system is huge. These are real-time computer calculations, so there are tens of thousands of lines of computer code that go into this and software development that is very complex.
Overall, satellite navigation is supposed to enhance safety, enhance flight operations, give airlines more direct routes to save fuel and save passengers time. It will also, I think the FAA hopefully believes, allow us to phase out ground-based infrastructure that is now costly and requires a good deal of maintenance. I'm not quite so confident about replacing ILSes and other technology that have been proven, but that's a hope for the future.
I have been a very strong advocate. Our subcommittee, during the time that I was its chairman, held several hearings on various aspects of FAA's technology enhancements and advancements, and particularly on the WAAS program. To our great disappointment, there have been slippages. In April, GAO found that facilities and equipment costs that were estimated to be about $506 million have ballooned to $957 million, that total life-cycle costs are estimated to be in the range of $2 billion, and that the schedule is behind by at least a year.
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Today, we're going to hear about further cost growth and schedule slips. That does not generate a great deal of confidence in the flying public, the traveling public, or those on the appropriations committee, those of us on this authorizing committee who have to answer to, and time and again do answer to, the public, the news media for these concerns. When former Administrator David Hinson came on board and Deputy Administrator Linda Daschle, the very first thing they did was to attack the problem of cost overruns, delays, failing to meet schedules, overly complex aspects of the Advanced Automation System in all of its permutations. To their great credit, they brought on board Dr. Donohue, who, with his team, has taken hold of this issue, scaled back the program to a manageable level, to realistic targets for costs, for performance, and got the program on schedule. But it is so big that it is slipping away again.
In a bipartisan effort, this committee worked to help FAA with some of its problems, the fundamental problem being that of contracting. With the strong support and leadership of former Republican member of the committee Bill Clinger, later chairman of the Government Operations Committee, we cured the contracting problems at FAA; gave FAA relief from procurement and personnel laws that had held back its advancement of new technology. Everyone was hoping that this was going to cure the problems. But now, there are many asking whether WAAS is another AAS just waiting to happen. Dr. Donohue has assured me privately that is not going to happen, he's not going to let it happen. We're going to hear how he plans to do that.
The Air Transport Association, of course, has a real concern, and they're going to recommend curtailing WAAS at end of Phase I when a less than fully operational system will be in place. I hope FAA will respond in advance to that question because there are serious implications about the investments we've made and whether we're going to get the benefits anticipated from WAAS.
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Recently, and of very great concern, Mr. Chairman, there have been reports about new technology ability of the Russian military to be able to jam satellite navigational systems. That, I hope, you will make the subject of a closed hearing in this committee so that we can take a very careful look at it in a very contained environment.
Now while we're focusing today on what's wrong here and what may be going right in the future, I do want to express my concern that all too often the public knows about FAA's automation system only in the aftermath of an incident or an accident or a loss of life. There's no attempt to put FAA's huge modernization program in context; $34 billion, it began in 1986, 50,000 pieces of technology are in place. Just earlier this year the voice switching and control system with a million lines of computer code, a $1.2 billion system was installed without shutting down the system for one second. That's like changing a tire on a car at 60 miles an hour.
FAA deserves credit for the good things they've done. They get criticized, including by former Secretary of Transportation and the Vice President, for running a system on vacuum tubes. That's just so misleading it just infuriates me because there's less than 4 percent of the whole system that has any association with vacuum tubes, and they are being phased out as this modernization program moves ahead. I think FAA deserves a great deal of credit for what they have accomplished. But now let us proceed with what's wrong with the current system, the WAAS program.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Oberstar, for some very fine comments and a good suggestion also about the security of the situation.
Next, we will call on Vice Chairman Blunt.
Mr. BLUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm grateful to you for holding this hearing today. This is, obviously, a critically important topic. I know that nobody on the committee wants to rush FAA into operation with a system that's not ready to go into operation, but certainly the history of this is troublesome and seems to be getting more so. I look forward to the information we're going to be receiving today. Certainly, I'm glad that you and Mr. Oberstar are talking about following up in looking at the more significant security implications of this in a closed hearing at a later time.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. POSHARD. Mr. Chairman, I, too, appreciate your holding this hearing. I would just ask unanimous consent to submit an opening statement for the record.
Mr. DUNCAN. Without objection, that unanimous consent request will be granted.
[Mr. Poshard's prepared statement follows:]
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Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Cook?
Mr. COOK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have really no comments right now.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you.
Ms. DANNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a very brief opening statement. First of all, I want to thank you very much for holding the hearing this morning on the WAAS program. In fact, I remember the very last hearing we had on this subject in 1995. However, at that time, the mood was far more optimistic I think than it is today.
As many of us will remember, that WAAS contract was offered and awarded to Wilcox Electric, which was then headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. At that time, both Wilcox and FAA were confident that the system could be delivered on time and on budget. However, after initial difficulties, the contract with Wilcox was terminated, and at substantial cost, I might add, to both the taxpayers and to Wilcox. After the cancellation, Wilcox predicted that the new contractor would very likely run into the very same problems and the same experiences that Wilcox had run into. And these warnings it appears were quite prophetic.
Once again the FAA and the Congress must decide whether or not the WAAS contract should be continued. After the setbacks experienced by two of the Nation's most sophisticated air traffic control equipment manufacturers, I believe it is essential that those of us in Congress have assurances that the system will work as planed; otherwise, it may be necessary to consider where scarce resources could be better spent. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Ms. Danner.
I don't know whether she's had time to even catch her breath, but Ms. Johnson, do you wish to make an opening statement at this time?
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I simply wish to thank you for your leadership in having the hearings. I look forward to the witnesses. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no opening statement. Thank you.
[The prepared statements of Messrs. Cramer, Fox, and Costello follow:]
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you very much.
We will then proceed with Panel 1, and we have a very distinguished panel. Several of these witnesses have been here on several different occasions, many different occasions some of them. We will proceed in the order listed on the Notice of Hearing. We're going to proceed first with the General Accounting Office because they have an introductory five minute video that they feel will be helpful to members of the committee in understanding this system a little bit better.
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I would like to introduce the first panel at this time. It consists of Mr. Gerald L. Dillingham, who is Associate Director of Transportation Issues in the Resources, Community and Economic Development Division of the General Accounting Office; Mr. Kenneth M. Mean, who is the Inspector General for the Department of Transportation; Dr. George L. Donohue, who is Associate Administrator for Research and Acquisitions at the Federal Aviation Administration; Mr. John R. Landon, who is Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Space Systems and Architectures of the Department of Defense; and finally, Mr. John C. Weaver, who is the president and chief operating officer of the Hughes Aircraft Company. Gentlemen, it is a great honor for this subcommittee to have witnesses of your calibre here with us today. We look forward to your testimony.
Mr. Dillingham, you may proceed with your video and testimony.
TESTIMONY OF GERALD L. DILLINGHAM, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, TRANSPORTATION ISSUES, RESOURCES, COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIVISION, U.S. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE; KENNETH M. MEAD, INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION; DR. GEORGE L. DONOHUE, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR RESEARCH AND ACQUISITIONS, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION; JOHN R. LANDON, ASSISTANT DEPUTY UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR SPACE SYSTEMS AND ARCHITECTURES, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; AND JOHN C. WEAVER, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, HUGHES AIRCRAFT COMPANY
Mr. DILLINGHAM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I truly believe that this is a case where a picture is worth a thousand words. As you've heard from the opening statements, this is a really technical issue. I think that the five minute video that we have will do a lot to explain what is going to come up in the testimony.
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We would like to thank FAA for allowing us to show this video. I urge you to pay particular attention to the comments about GEO satellites that will come up in a number of the testimonies.
So with your permission, Mr. Chairman, we'll show that video now.
Mr. DUNCAN. Go right ahead.
Mr. DILLINGHAM. It's a technology thing.
Mr. DILLINGHAM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The consensus of opinion is that satellite-based navigation using GPS-generated signals with the enhancements that will be available through WAAS holds great promise for the Nation's air traffic control system, the aviation industry, and the travelling public. The intent of our testimony this morning is to provide you with our observations on the cost, schedule, and technical issues that have drawn considerable attention to the WAAS program and have raised questions as to whether that great promise will be realized and at what cost.
With regard to program cost, in December 1994 when WAAS was in its early development stage, FAA provided the Congress with an estimate of approximately $500 million for facilities and equipment. Today, FAA estimates those costs to be approximately $900 million. Our review found that the increased cost estimate was in large part the results of the normal course of events in the development of complex technologically-based systems. However, much of the concern about this increased estimate is principally the result of inadequate communications with the Congress and other involved parties.
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Mr. Chairman, as I'm sure you are aware, it is difficult, if not impossible, to be very precise as to the cost of something as complex as WAAS when it is in its developmental stage. And because of that difficulty, the convention is to develop a cost estimate, a range that is subsequently refined as the project proceeds and the requirements and other relevant factors are more clearly understood.
In 1994, when FAA presented the $500 million estimate to Congress, the agency did, in fact, have available such a range, with a low end of slightly over $660 million, and a high end of about $950 million. Unfortunately, neither that range, nor the level of confidence that FAA had in its accuracy, nor any of the subsequent developments that affected estimated program costs were shared with the Congress. These actions, or inactions, on the part of FAA contributed to the allegations of a 90 percent program cost overrun. The actions also had the additional effect of preventing the Congress from having adequate information to carry out its oversight responsibilities.
There exists today the potential for a similar situation. Specifically, in order for the WAAS to meet certain performance criteria, FAA may have to increase its expenditures for satellites. FAA proposes not to include those costs in its budget for WAAS but as a separate line item. This would have the effect of masking or excluding as much as $190 million from the WAAS cost.
With regard to performance and schedule, our work found that while the developers of WAAS and many outside experts are confident that WAAS is likely to satisfy most key performance requirements within the current schedule and cost estimates, some concerns do exist. One of those concerns is whether the new system will be able to deliver the services provided by the existing ground-based system in terms of its precision and the virtual full-time availability of the guidance signal. A second concern revolves around meeting an integrity requirement that the system can sound an alarm within five seconds when misleading information is received. And yet a third concern is centered around the possibility that the GPS WAAS signal could be vulnerable to various types of radio frequency interference.
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With regard to the timely completion of the project, with a planned date of February in the year 2002 to commission the full WAAS, FAA faces a very tight timeframe for putting the necessary satellites in place. Any delay in placing those satellites would likely cause the WAAS program to slip and require the retention of existing ground-based systems. This is a system which costs FAA over $160 million a year to maintain. It is also important to understand that meeting the current schedule for the full use of WAAS is in reference to the new date that was established last week. The project is currently about 15 months behind the original planned completion date for Phase I, but FAA assures us that the completion of the full system is only 4 months behind schedule.
Mr. Chairman, we point these issues out as concerns but not necessarily as show-stoppers. For example, when a benefit-cost analysis is conducted using some rather pessimistic assumptions related to cost increases and schedule slippages, the results still show that although some of the net benefits will be lost, WAAS still maintains a positive benefit-cost ratio. And furthermore, FAA has indicated to us that it is aware of the issues and concerns I've just listed and that in each instance it has a plan or activities underway to mitigate or remove these concerns. Their degree of success or failure in these activities is yet to be determined and will ultimately impact on the costs, schedule, and performance of the final system.
Mr. Chairman, in the final analysis, we agree with others that WAAS has the potential to provide significant benefits in a cost-efficient manner. However, we recommended, and continue to believe, it is incumbent upon FAA to provide the Congress with full and complete program costs, including cost estimate ranges, with stated levels of confidence, and full program life-cycle costs. It is also incumbent upon FAA to provide the Congress and other stakeholders with the results of their efforts to address the known concerns and risks associated with this program, all to be done in a timely fashion.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This completes our statement.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Dillingham.
Mr. MEAD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In June 1995, I testified before this committeethen for the GAOon the same subject. At that time, it was noted that the schedule to implement WAAS by late 1997 was ambitious and could be slowed by potential difficulties, some of which were beyond FAA's control. Since then, the implementation date has slipped. FAA now expects to have initial capability in 1999 with pilots able to use it as the primary means of navigation in 2001.
I would like to touch on two major areas today. One is what we see as a very compelling need for an overall plan on this transition to satellite technology. The second concerns several issues that are germane to the use of satellites in general.
FAA needs to complete a comprehensive, agreedupon, lucid plan and strategy for transitioning to satellite technology in the areas of communications, navigation, and surveillance. WAAS is a project with a life-cycle cost of $2.4 billion. It is but one system needed to complete this transition. The plan needs to address all systems needed, when they are required, how much they will cost, when the funding is needed, and what cost aircraft operators and airports will be expected to cover.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We've discussed these matters with the new FAA Administrator. The Administrator concurs. I want to underscore, thoughit is of critical importance that this plan, including any modifications to it, reflect consensus by the FAA and Congress, as well as the users and the aviation industry. If the plan isn't agreed to by those four groups, it is not going to be that useful.
Why is this plan needed? To begin with, systems in addition to WAAS need to be effectively developed and deployed. WAAS is just part of the picture. Without new communications and surveillance systems, WAAS will not in itself provide the full benefits.
The transition to satellite-based communications, navigation, and surveillance systems is intended to ultimately result in implementation of a concept called ''Free Flight.'' That does not mean that pilots can fly anywhere they want, anytime they want. But it does mean that pilots collaborating with air traffic control will be allowed to fly user-preferred routes, provided they can do so safely.
This chart has four key words on itcommunications, navigation, surveillance, and decision support. In parentheses are various systems that need to be completed. I will not go into details on all of them, but you can see that WAAS is one of those and it is adjacent to navigation. All the systems must work together within stringent guidelines and do so safely. That is one reason why the plan I alluded to is needed.
Another reason is that both FAA and the aviation community are going to incur significant costs. There are questions about who is going to pay and pay for what. For its part, FAA needs a financing plan that reflects its cost and a consistent costing methodology. Again, I do not want to go into detail here and rehash a lot of numbers, but just one example. In the case of WAAS, three costing methodologies were used and each resulted in a different figure that was reported. A significant portion of the swing in WAAS costs, for example, is attributable to the non-inclusion of life-cycle costs in some reports and their inclusion in others. In the case of WAAS, that can cause a cost swing of over $1 billion. FAA now requires the inclusion of life-cycle costs in its estimates. That is a welcome improvement.
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There are two other costing issues that surround the matter of who will pay and for what. These need to be resolved. I would like to touch on them. You will be hearing more about them, I believe. FAA's Flight 2000 program office plans to pay approximately $170 million for on-board the aircraft equipment for Flight 2000, which is a precursor to Free Flight. A similar issue surrounds the Local Area Augmentation Systems, or LAAS, which would provide precision landing capability at airports in more severe weather conditions. In that case, the program office wants the airports to pay. These financing issues also underscore the need for a plan.
I also would like to touch upon four satellite-related issues that need resolution, and I think this will supplement what Mr. Dillingham said. These issues have a direct bearing on what equipment the aircraft operator is going to require, and on when and to what extent you will be able to decommission the ground-based infrastructure.
First is whether a second GPS signal will be made available. That will affect both the type of equipment an aircraft must carry and the cost of ground-based stations. We will need fewer ground-based reference stations if this second signal becomes available.
Second, how many communications satellites will be needed? Should they be purchased or should they be leased? That decision needs to be made in the near term because we can't just turn satellites on and start using them. In some instances, it requires 4 years to get these satellites up, operating, and tested.
Third, when GPS signals pass through the ionosphere they can be distorted. The year 2000 will experience a phenomenon called the ''Solar Maximum.'' That's when the distortions caused by cyclic solar energy can be most severe. FAA will have to assess in the year 2000 what compensating adjustments will be required for those distortions.
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And finally, and the Chairman alluded to this as did Mr. Oberstar, the system must be protected from spoofing or jamming, which is intentional interference with a satellite signal. FAA is very much aware of those issues and is available to brief the committee on the risk-mitigation analysis it is performing and appropriate counter-measures.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Mead.
Dr. DONOHUE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the subcommittee. It's a pleasure to appear before you this morning to answer your concerns about the WAAS project, and, in particular, its cost and the FAA's oversight of the program.
The information given to you this morning by Mr. Dillingham and Mr. Mead, I am in essential complete agreement with their testimony.
The basic description of how WAAS interfaces with the Global Positioning System (GPS) to permit the use of GPS for aircraft navigation is contained in my formal statement and submitted for the record. I think the video tape shown by Mr. Dillingham also very clearly explains how this system works. I certainly will be happy in the course of this morning's hearing to address any of the technical issues that the committee may have. But sometimes engineers do have a hard time putting these answers in understandable language, so bear with me.
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WAAS augmented GPS will permit pilots to calculate their position within seven meters better than 99.9 percent of the time. That's an important number, Mr. Chairman, because we are going to be talking about availability and, as we discuss the different phases of the system, availability is one of the key parameters that the committee needs to be aware of.
We will also provide a Category I precision approach capability down to 200 feet. That's a ceiling altitude of 200 feet, with 1/2 mile visibility to potentially over 5,000 airports in the United States. With this capability, pilots can fly routes that are more direct and will no longer be limited to flight paths defined by ground-based equipment, as the video tape showed you.
I think it is important at this point to show you our first chart, over here to my right, to give you a brief definition of terms. What we are depicting here is a typical glide slope approach to an airfield. The first aircraft to the left at the highest altitude shows what you would have for what we call a non-precision approach. This would be an approach that has vertical guidance down to roughly 300 feet to 1,000 feet, depending upon the nature of the airfield. That, I will show you, is an important distinction and will be available with the WAAS system. That brings that capability to, as I said, roughly 5,000 airports in the United States. Over 4,000 of those have no approach capability whatsoever today.
The second aircraft shows you, as you go further down this glide slope to a ceiling of 200 feet, what we call a Category I landing. At that point, you also have to have 1/2 mile visibility below the ceiling to be able to complete that approach. The WAAS system is designed to provide that level of accuracy and capability, again, for the entire U.S. air space to over potentially 5,000 airports. Today, we have that capability at less than 1,000 airports in the United States. We have continual requests to provide that capability to more and more airports with ground-based systems at great cost to the Government.
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So those are the two things that we will be getting with the WAAS system.
The next aircraft, the third, shows you going further down this glide slope to a ceiling of 100 feet. This is what we call a Category II precision approach. And then the last one would show you going down to the ground, virtually, as we say, a fog at the top of your boot-tops. This is a fully auto-coupled approach down the airport, Category III approach, the most precise glide slope approach that we have.
The last two, the Category II and Category III approach cannot be done with the WAAS system. You need a Local Area Augmentation System. The FAA is working on that system, but that is not the subject of today's hearing. I just want to make sure that you understand what a non-precision approach and a Category I approach are.
WAAS will open the door to numerous other technologies that will significantly improve aviation safety. Modern safety equipment, such as improved collision avoidance surveillance and enhanced ground proximity warning systems will also use the WAAS-augmented GPS signals to take advantage of communication data links and digital terrain bases. WAAS will tie together many of the improvements we have made in communications, surveillance, and navigation, significantly improving system safety, and increasing system capacity. As Mr. Mead has just testified, WAAS is really a foundation to many new systems that are required as we enter into the 21st century.
The next chart gives a graphical depiction of how this system is a fundamental base for what we're trying to do in the new National Airspace System. The bottom bar represents the basic GPS system which the Defense Department has developed and is currently operating. On top of that, you can see that there is area navigation. This is the basic ability to fly point-to-point. With today's system and avionics, including something we call RAIM, which is Remote Autonomous Integrity Monitoring, it is able, as a supplemental means under instrument flight rules, to use the GPS system for air navigation. But because of the way the system is configured, roughly only 70 percent of the time can the GPS system be used to navigate aircraft for safety reasons. That is a great loss of the potential capability that GPS provides us.
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The WAAS system, next to here, shows you how it builds upon GPS and is a necessary augmentation to GPS to give us all of those other boxes stacked on top of the WAAS system. Many of those are capabilities for, like I said, the enhanced ground proximity warning which will give us safety protection against Controlled Flight Into Terrain, one of the most common causes of aircraft fatalities today, also for what we call Advanced Dependent Surveillance Broadcast which is an improvement over radar. This is a major watershed in aviation navigation and collision prevention to take GPS, instead of a radar signal, which can give us more accuracy, more timely information, and ultimately, is required to give us reduced separation standards in congested airspace, which is absolutely vital to handle the capacity needs of the 21st century.
In 1994, the FAA and the Department of Transportation accelerated the WAAS program from a 12-year development cycle to an 8-year program in order to capitalize on these significant safety and capacity enhancements sooner. It was a 4-year acceleration in the program schedule. The contract was awarded to Wilcox Electric in August 1995. However, the contractor could not provide the FAA with sufficient information to determine exactly when the WAAS could be delivered and how much it would cost. It was a cost-plus fixed fee contract; it was not a fixed price contract. In May 1996, we terminated that contract.
The FAA quickly entered into a contract with Hughes Aircraft, one of the principal subcontractors for Wilcox who had demonstrated an ability to develop a system capable of meeting the WAAS program requirements specified in the original contract. I want to emphasize that there have been no changes in the functional requirements for this system as we have gone through the program.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The current WAAS contract with Hughes has three phases. Phase I, which provides us an initial operational capability, will be delivered in April 1999. That is just 16 months from now. At that time, pilots equipped with a certified GPS receiver can use the GPS system for navigation for en route and non-precision approaches. Again, that was the approach where you could go down to roughly somewhere between 300 to 1,000 feet depending upon the airport with 1 mile of visibility. One of the most significant safety improvements achieved in Phase I or at initial operational capability will be that the FAA will establish approach procedures with vertical guidance at airports that are limited currently to non-precision approaches or have no approach procedures at all. This capability should greatly reduce Controlled Flight Into Terrain, one of the most common causes of fatal accidents in aviation.
Chart number 3 shows you the availability of the capability for both en route navigation and non-precision approach throughout the entire U.S. controlled airspace. You can look at the charts that we have provided to you if you can't see the numbers, but a 39s of availability, that's 99.9 percent of the time, means that within that entire volume, not at any one place but throughout that entire volume, less than nine hours of the year will the system not be available for use. At a 95 percent availability, which is the lowest availability shown on this chart, that equates to roughly less than 18 days in the entire year throughout that entire volume, not as a whole day but that amount of time, that could be lost. This is a very high availability of the en route and non-precision approach and is a very significant accomplishment, again only 16 months away from today.
Phase I, I think I've talked about that.
I wanted to point out also, there are roughly 5,000 airports covered in this airspace and roughly equally distributed over that airspace.
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Let me show you chart number 5 now. Chart number 5 shows you what kind of availability we will get in April 1999 for the precision approach or the Category I landing, the 200 foot with 1/2 mile. You will notice here that the area is extremely small, effectively concentrated on the western half of the United States, and that the rest of the country, virtually everything east of the Mississippi and all of Alaska and Hawaii, have much less than 95 percent availability. This is a combination of the number of reference stations which will be deployed at that point, as well as the satellite coverage we'll have at that point.
The next chart shows you what would happen if we waived a requirement to have full satellite redundancy and if we used the reference stations that would be deployed at the end of Phase I. This is similar to the recommendation that the Air Transport Association has been making for the last several years as a termination point for this program. What you see here is that a significant amount of the country has far less availability, in fact, down to less than 50 percent availability. That means if you take off, you've got roughly a 50 percent chance of not being able to land at the airport that you're flying to, if you're under instrument conditions. In our view, this is an unacceptable level of performance for Category I. It does not allow a large number of the airports in the system in the United States to achieve the full benefits of this system, nor does it allow the FAA to decommission any of its equipment. Therefore, a significant amount of the benefits of the system will not be achieved at the end of Phase I, although a significant amount will be achieved.
During the past 15 months, Hughes has successfully met each milestone and design review, and the contract has remained on schedule and slightly under budget. I would like to repeat that during the last 15 months, Hughes has successfully met each milestone and design review, and the contract has remained on schedule and slightly under budget.
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Earlier this month, the first testbed demonstration of prototype software demonstrated WAAS accuracy in a real life environment with safety of flight certifiable software. The contract calls for computing user position with an accuracy of 7.6 meters, which is 25 feet. Using WAAS prototype software, engineers from Hughes showed that the software could compute user position with an accuracy of 3.3 meters, or 11 feet. The results verify laboratory tests that indicate the system's performance is well within the 7.6 meter standard called for in FAA's specification.
As encouraging as these results are, it is important to note that we face three technical challenges to the timely development of WAAS software. First, we have to develop a better equation to compute the level of safety required for Category I precision approach. Second, we need to evaluate the algorithms to test the WAAS ionospheric corrections, as Mr. Mead has mentioned, that give us a capability during extreme solar activity. And third, we need to fully qualify the commercial off-the-shelf software and the new software added by Hughes in the WAAS to the critical safety standards required for aviation. Solutions for each of these issues have been developed and testing is underway. All the data that Hughes has provided to date indicate that these issues can be resolved within the parameters of the contract requirements. If we determine that it is necessary to modify the WAAS contract requirements to resolve any of these issues, we will notify the subcommittee immediately.
There are two additional programmatic issues that must also be addressed. One is the availability of WAAS geostationary satellites, as Mr. Mead and, I think, Mr. Dillingham both have suggested. WAAS currently has two geosatellites under letter of contract with Comsat that are now operational. In addition to these two satellites, we will need to lease more satellites to achieve final operational capability in the year 2001. There are two options currently under review for obtaining these services. The FAA can either lease dedicated or host satellites. Dedicated satellites allow more flexibility in use in location but they are more expensive. Using host satellites would be less expensive but flexibility is lost along with the ability to reposition or replace a payload that may fail. The product team is currently assessing the various options and I expect to receive its recommendations in December.
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The next programmatic issue concerns jamming the GPS signal. A critical component of the WAAS program is the ability to provide timely warning to pilots if system integrity is degraded due to jamming or other causes. I will point out that the jamming that we're concerned about is the jamming to the GPS system, it is not a jamming to the WAAS system. Part of WAAS' function is to provide that kind of indication in a very rapid way. Jamming of signals is not a new issue for the FAA. All navigation and landing systems that we use today are susceptible to some form of jamming. However, our experience to date has been with ground-based systems and our traditional contingency plans are not as well suited to a GPS-based system. We currently have a program underway that is addressing this issue. Due to national security concerns, however, I request that we do not have a discussion in an open forum. But we are happy to have discussions with you in the appropriate forum.
Given the challenges we face, I understand and appreciate the subcommittee's interest in this program. Although I am encouraged by Hughes' performance so far, I share your concern that technical issues could further delay the program. For that reason, I have asked a panel of experts affiliated with the Defense Science Board to give me an independent review of the technical requirements and risk of the WAAS program, and to provide me with a candid assessment of the program. I have requested that they specifically look at the likelihood of the FAA establishing a successful system within the timeframe of the contract. The preliminary findings indicate that we are on the right track. This report should be completed by the end of this month, and I will provide the subcommittee a copy for your review.
We're also working with the Inspector General to develop a comprehensive plan for implementing satellite systems. The plan should provide a good foundation for transition to a satellite-based navigation system. I think, as Mr. Mead has also mentioned, we are well underway to having a totally comprehensive plan in our architecture of 3.0 which we are working to build a total industry consensus on. I think we've gone a long way in that direction.
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Before closing, Mr. Chairman, I want to take a few moments to discuss some lessons learned. In most major acquisitions, particularly those that involve the development of cutting-edge new technologies like WAAS, it is important for the FAA to acknowledge from the very beginning the uncertainties and risks involved, and to provide an appropriate range of estimates for both cost and schedule that reflect the identified risks. The General Accounting Office has commented that specific dollar amounts and schedule dates that necessarily must go into our budget in submission to Congress and through the Executive Branch's process imply a level of certainty that does not always exist. I completely agree with the GAO. We are working with the GAO to develop a system that will accurately recognize the cost of the uncertainties associated with any program so we can better communicate this information to Congress and to others in the future.
Let me give you the cost ranges for this specific program at several key milestones. In 1992, when the mission need statement was signed by the FAA, it stated that there was a potential cost range from $150 million to $1.2 billion for this program, a very wide range of uncertainty, not necessarily uncommon at that stage in a program's life, given the immaturity and understanding of exactly what it needs to bring the system to fruition.
In 1993, the FAA, in preparation for a Department of Transportation Acquisition Review Council meeting, had narrowed that range to what they believed was something from $600 million to $850 million. In April 1994, at the Department of Transportation Acquisition Review Council investment decision meeting, at which time the Department approved an investment decision to move ahead with a Request for Proposal, the range that was presented to the Department at that time was from $604 million to $890 million, that was the uncertainty. And at that time they also accelerated the schedule from a 12-year to an 8-year schedule, decreasing by 4 years the estimated time.
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In August 1995, a little over a year later after the Request for Proposals had gone out and we had received proposals from multiple contractors where they had done detailed cost estimates to meet the requirements that the FAA had set, our estimate at that time became $782 million to $946 million. You'll notice that there was an increase at the time of the contract award to Wilcox because we had now the benefit of a substantial amount of engineering from the Nation's industrial community to tell us what the detailed costs would be for such a system. The Wilcox award was not a low bid winner award.
At that point, there was a 29 percent increase in the cost estimates from what we gave to the Department to what we knew when we awarded the contract to Wilcox, primarily due to the higher fidelity of information available to us at that time. This range was widely briefed to a number of congressional staff people, but it was not, obviously, effectively briefed to the world.
In May 1996, we determined that we should terminate the contract with Wilcox. At that point, our estimate of program costs ranged between $966 million to $1.2 billion. We felt that was an unacceptable high end of this, although I will point out it is still within the high end of the range that was estimated in 1992. But because of the uncertainty we felt for a number of reasons, we terminated that contract and renegotiated a contract with Hughes almost immediately. We definitized the Hughes contract in October 1996. The Hughes contract definitization of what needed to be done to complete this program gave us a range, which is the current range that we're using, of $958 million to $1 billion as the uncertainty range, a relatively small uncertainty range at this point, and $200 million less
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. Dr. Donohue, excuse me. Let me apologize to you for interrupting, but I've let you go on about three times as long as any other witness primarily because you are the point man. But to be fair to all these other witnesses that we have on this panel and the next panel, and we have some members who want to ask some questions, so I'm going to have to ask you to try to conclude in the next couple of minutes.
Dr. DONOHUE. I apologize, Mr. Chairman. I'm basically finished. But this was data that I felt, based upon our discussions
Mr. DUNCAN. Good. You've given us a lot of important testimony, but I've probably been unfair to many, many others. So if you could kind of speed it up just a little bit.
Dr. DONOHUE. Yes, sir. I want to emphasize at this point that I believe the cost schedules have been stable for well over a year, that we do have the management systems in place today that I told you about 2 years ago, Mr. Chairman, that the FAA is doing a better job of managing our contracts and catching problems very early and reacting swiftly to those problems. I'll be happy to answer any other questions you have this morning. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you very much.
Mr. LANDON. Good morning, Mr. Chairman.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to come before you today to discuss the Global Positioning System. I have a brief prepared statement which I have offered to the committee.
My purpose today is really to confirm to you the Department of Defense's commitment to GPS, and to discuss management initiatives the Executive Branch has taken over the last few years. The GPS is a space-based positioning, navigation, and time distribution system that proved of enormous military value to us during Desert Storm, as well as in subsequent U.S. military humanitarian and support actions elsewhere in the world. Because the system was so effective, the Department of Defense has accelerated procurement of GPS equipment and broadened its application into virtually every aspect of military operation.
We consider GPS a core component of our modernization efforts and absolutely vital to national security. I fully expect our reliance on GPS information to continue to increase rapidly in the future.
The Department of Defense also recognizes the tremendous benefits GPS offers to civilian, scientific, and commercial users across the entire spectrum of public and private transportation and commerce. The FAA's Wide Area Augmentation System is one example of the civil application of the GPS that shows great promise.
The GPS is one of the first distributed satellite constellations ever developed. Continuous world-wide GPS coverage is provided by a constellation of 24 satellites operated by the Air Force. Since the July 1995 declaration of full operational capability for the system, it has provided exceptionally accurate and reliable service.
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The current constellation is composed of Block 2 and 2A satellites. We launched the first of the next generation of GPS satellites, the new Block 2R satellites, this summer. In April 1996, a contract was awarded to develop and produce up to 33 third generation Block 2F satellites which we'll begin launching in 2002. I say these things because we in the Department of Defense are fully committed to sustaining the GPS constellation well into the 21st century.
Over the last 2 years, in recognition of the expanding use of GPS in all areas, the departments and agencies within the Executive Branch focused on formalizing the management structure for developing the full capability of this dual use system. The U.S. GPS policy, signed by the President last March, provides the strategic vision for further developing the GPS as the Nation's and the world's standard for space-based positioning, navigation, and timing.
Recognizing the national importance of GPS, the policy establishes the goals, guidelines, and agency responsibilities that enhance our economic competitiveness and productivity while protecting our national security and foreign policy interests. The policy gives the DOD responsibility for acquiring, operating, and maintaining the basic GPS, for maintaining a standard positioning service for civil use, and a precise positioning service for military use, and for developing measures to prevent hostile use of the system and ensure the United States retains a military advantage in this area.
The policy also directed the establishment of a permanent interagency GPS executive board, or the IGEB, to oversee the management of GPS and its U.S. augmentations. This board met earlier this year with representatives attending from Defense, Transportation, State, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, NASA, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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The DOD fully endorses the development of the GPS and augmentations for peaceful purposes. This past July we signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Transportation which documents agreements related to providing an additional signal for civil use and our guarantee not to change the structure of the military signals until this additional civil signal is operational. I believe we are working more closely than ever with the Department of Transportation and the FAA regarding international civil aviation initiatives to augment basic GPS services. We support development of the FAA's Wide Area Augmentation System to improve the safety and availability of GPS navigation services for civil aviation, and establishment of the WAAS as the model for future international systems.
I appreciate this opportunity to appear before you, and I'd be happy to answer any questions I can.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Landon.
Mr. WEAVER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee. Based on that outstanding testimony by the previous witnesses, I'll be very brief.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to report on the progress Hughes Aircraft Company has made as the contractor to the FAA on the ground segment of WAAS. As has been indicated, the program will bring tremendous advantages in safety and efficiency of air travel. We believe it deserves and will ultimately receive the support of Congress, the pilots, and the flying public.
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It is important to remember that we embarked on the WAAS program because of the safety advantages offered by the augmented GPS navigation. As Dr. Donohue indicated, WAAS will allow virtually every airport in the country to receive a precision approach. A 1996 study by the Flight Safety Foundation concluded that scheduled carriers are five times more likely to crash making a non-precision approach as opposed to a precision approach. The recent Korean Airlines incident in Guam is a tragic illustration of the safety advantage of having a precision approach.
The Wide Area Augmentation System will greatly improve the flexibility of aircraft operations during en route, terminal, and approach phases of flight. For the travelling public, this means safer and more reliable transportation. In addition, WAAS will save the FAA the expense of maintaining the existing network of navigation and landing aids. Much of this 1950s era technology is nearing the end of its useful life. The FAA calculates that WAAS has a benefit-cost ratio of over 4-to-1.
I would like to briefly outline the progress we have made since assuming the role of contractor for the WAAS ground segment in May 1996. These achievements can be grouped into three categoriesprogram management, financial management, and technical progress.
First, program management. In August 1996, we delivered the functional verification system, which is essentially a mini-WAAS, 5 weeks ahead of our contract schedule. We have passed the preliminary design review. In our most recent past performance review we received a rating of ''excellent.'' System and software engineering is stable and hardware procurement is progressing as planned. Critical design review is scheduled for December and we anticipate no obstacles.
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As for financial management, I am pleased to report that we're on or slightly under budget. Hughes has currently a $220 million contract with the FAA for Phase I of the WAAS program, and the FAA is moving toward exercising options 2 and 3, for a potential total price of $483.5 million. This excellent record reflects the teamwork between the FAA and the contractor. As Dr. Donohue indicated, requirements have remained stable.
Hughes is committed to working to delivering the WAAS program in the most cost-effective manner possible. Earlier this year we worked closely with the FAA program office to make improvements in the WAAS safety standards within the existing budget.
From a technical perspective, the program is also progressing as planned. Recent tests with prototype WAAS master station algorithms demonstrate an accuracy of 3.39 meters. We anticipate there will be additional improvements as this work proceeds. These results are consistent with earlier laboratory test results and are well under our contract requirement of 7.96 meters.
We are fully confident we will deliver WAAS as an available en route navigation signal 99.999 percent of the time, and as capable of supporting Category I precision approaches to a decision height of 200 feet with 1/2 mile visibility. Later this fall, U.S. Navy research aircraft will begin flying from Patuxent Naval Air Station with a prototype WAAS receiver on board. This is an important step in determining the final airborne receiver performance requirements.
WAAS is quickly becoming an international standard for augmented GPS navigation. We want to maintain this progress so that the next generation of navigation aids are based on American technology and employing American workers. In short, Mr. Chairman, our work on WAAS is progressing on schedule, on budget, with no technical obstacles in sight.
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The biggest issue facing the WAAS program today is will WAAS be funded to its full completion so that it delivers precision approach capability to virtually every airport in the country, or will it provide only an en route and non-precision approach capability with precision approaches only being provided at major airports by other programs. Our research indicates that the current FAA plans for full deployment of WAAS with a precision approach capability is the optimal solution for the full range of operating aircraft in the United States.
The second major issue facing WAAS is deployment selection of the final two geosynchronous communication satellite platforms required for the end-state Wide Area Augmentation System. This is outside the scope of our contract, but we are eager to help if asked.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the Wide Area Augmentation System represents a revolutionary advance in aviation technology. We are proud of our contribution to the program. We look forward to answering your questions. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Weaver.
Dr. Donohue, you and Mr. Weaver have both presented very positive pictures of where we are with the WAAS program at this time. But, obviously, you know that there is some controversy about this or some disagreement. We have a witness on the next panel who in his testimony states: ''Unfortunately, this is where we are today in the WAAS programunbounded cost growth without management accountability, total civil dependency on a system owned and operated by the Department of Defense, and little, if any, emphasis on the development of operational procedures and accompanying air traffic changes to obtain real world benefits.'' And he goes on to say, ''Positive action must be taken now to correct the WAAS downward spiral, bring operational reality back into the picture, and to prevent the WAAS acronym from becoming a euphemism for worse than AAS.''
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Now that's a pretty different picture from the one that you've just presented. You heard me mention in my opening statement the AAS program and the staff estimates that I was given say it was originally supposed to cost $2.5 billion and now we're up to $7 billion. I mentioned another project that was referred to in a magazine article as ''a billion dollar boondoggle.'' That's just looking at the $958 million figure that we're at now. Mr. Mead mentioned a life cycle cost of almost $2.5 billion.
How can you say, and I'm certainly not blaming you with some of these problems that have occurred with AAS or some of these other things, but how can you present a picture so strongly one way, and then how can somebody else say something so totally opposite? How do we resolve those two, or can we?
Dr. DONOHUE. Mr. Chairman
Mr. DUNCAN. I'll let both you and Mr. Weaver respond.
Dr. DONOHUE. I think you put your finger on some part of the cause of a large amount of misunderstanding that I think is going on. A lot of the testimony, which I just read last night, by the ATA repeats a lot of things that I have seen in the press over the last year that we actually feel is inaccurate. We're trying to work with the ATA to show them the specifics. We certainly have opened up all of our program to the IG, and to the GAO, and to anyone else who wants to look into the details of this program.
We are trying to manage ourselves very differently than we used to under the AAS program. It is a very different management scheme. I believe this program is being very well managed. The life-cycle cost estimates now are something I brought to the FAA when I came here 3 years ago, and I was able to make that FAA policy in April 1996. That was significantly after this program was started, so we're in the process of trying to bring programs up to a new standard because I think it is the right way to look at the cost of programs. And so in that sense, that should not be looked at as a cost growth; that is, what I believe is a full disclosure for ourselves, the FAA, so we can make good decisions and we can understand what the out-year costs are that we need to budget for. This was not intended at all to be confusing as we did this, but, because of the fact that we are changing the way we do business, it probably has led to some confusion. But I am confident that this program is being managed well.
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Mr. WEAVER. Thank you, Doctor. I would like to note that Hughes Aircraft Company was the alternate supplier on AAS, lost that competition, then took that solution that we were providing for the original AAS to Canada. We will deliver within the next 2 years the Canadian Air Traffic Control System for a price under $1 billion. We have had numerous experiences throughout the world in delivering air traffic control systems, air command and control systems for defense of countries, and have uniquely delivered many of those ahead of schedule.
We feel that by virtue of the integrated product team relationship that we have developed with the FAA, where their program managers evolve right with ours into the progress in evolution of the system, that the confidence can be derived in delivering these systems on cost and on schedule within the uncertainty factor that Dr. Donohue has indicated. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Weaver.
Mr. Dillingham, the staff tells me that there are many airlines, both large and small, that have described WAAS as an expensive mistake because they think WAAS should be used for high altitude en route flights but not for landing. Yet, you heard Mr. Weaver say that a crash like that which occurred on Guam just a few days ago could have been potentially avoided if WAAS were fully funded and fully implemented. What do you think from your study of all of this?
Mr. DILLINGHAM. Mr. Chairman, we believe that as long as WAAS continues to show the positive benefit-cost ratio that it's still showing, even with the pessimistic assumptions, the safety enhancements that are inherent in WAAS are well worth the Federal investment.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Mead, what do you say? Do you think a crash like that which occurred on Guam could have been avoided if we had this system in place?
Mr. MEAD. Possibly. One of the clear benefits of full WAAS implementation is the exponentially greater number of precision landings that can be made safely at the Category I level.
Just to put this in perspective, though, we were talking about the polar extremes of views in this program. One has to remember that commercial carriers already have onboard avionics for the en-route environment, and they already are equipped for Category I landings at airports that have Instruments Landing Systems. Most of the airports that are productive for these airlines to use have ILS and can do Category I landings. But that does not say anything about the vast number of airports in this country that are not equipped with an ILS and that would be open to general aviation with WAAS.
Mr. DUNCAN. I've run out of time, but let me just ask, you mentioned the satellite problem, or potential problem, and you couldn't just decide one day to turn it on, and that it would take potentially as much as 4 years of advanced planning and so forth. Some of our witnesses believe that obtaining these satellites for the WAAS system may cause WAAS to fall further behind schedule and even could potentially greatly increase the cost estimates that we're hearing. Is that a potential problem?
Mr. MEAD. I cannot say definitely about the cost increase side, Mr. Chairman, but certainly the schedule could slip. And, of course, it's best to let that schedule slip before transitioning to a total decommissioning of your ground-based systems until we have a rock-solid understanding that this system will be absolutely safe.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Talking about decommissioning the ground system, Dr. Donohue, we've spent a lot of money on the ground system that we have and yet I understand the FAA plan is to decommission the ground-based navigational aids. Do you think, as some people do, that we will need to keep a ground-based system as a backup system to WAAS?
Dr. DONOHUE. Mr. Chairman, we're keying any decommissioning decisions to our full operational capability. Our goal right now is to do that in the year 2001. But I think the biggest uncertainty that I see is the determination of where we get the extra two satellites. And there is a time lag from the time we determine how to do that until we can get those satellites in orbit. We need to do it, as I think everyone here has said, in the most cost-effective way for the taxpayers, but that is a key date for us.
Our current plan is to begin a slow decommissioning of the ground-based systems roughly 4 years after achieving full operational capability, to give everybody both a chance to understand how this system works and also to start re-equipping their aircraft. We see that as a gradual decommissioning of equipment over about a 6 to 7 year period of time. At the end of that period of time, around the year 2010, I would envision that we would still have about 200 radio navigation beacons that would be able to give bearing and range information as an underlay to this system operating throughout that time. That is a safety net system. That gives us robustness to jamming until we're confident that we have the jamming issues solved, and it gives us a transition time for the avionics of a wide fleet.
So I think this is a prudent thing to do. We start getting cost-saving benefits as we phase out old equipment that's going to have to either be replaced on the ground or phased out. And so we are looking, if we do not use WAAS, at a very substantial investment to start replacing old ground-based navigation aids.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Do you have any rough guess as to what that would cost to keep those beacons up?
Dr. DONOHUE. What we are paying today just in operation and maintenance costs is about $170 million per year. That's not counting buying new equipment to replace aging equipment. Our estimate is if we keep the entire system robust going out into the future, it could be up in the $2 billion category to maintain the ground-based system out to say the year 2020.
Mr. DUNCAN. Speaking of that, can you tell us why the FAA used money out of its O&M on WAAS?
Dr. DONOHUE. Sir, from the very beginning there has been money in this from all three of our accounts. In the early years, we had money from the research account, R&D account, we then shifted more to F&E. But from the early stages, because communications are a large part of this program and we fund most of our communications in the FAA out of the operations account, it was deemed within the FAA to use the operations budget to pay for the communication parts of it. We have done this in discussion with the Department and with OMB to try to determine each time we put the budget together where they feel the most appropriate place is to put that.
Because that has shifted back and forth several times, I think that has added to confusion. The numbers I gave you earlier are total numbers; I think that is the way to look at this. When we do life-cycle costing we talk about total numbers, which is the appropriate number to talk about.
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Mr. DUNCAN. So you would say that the people who say that that was done in an effort to hide the full costs or make the costs look lower, that they are just wrong?
Dr. DONOHUE. Yes, sir.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you very much.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Weaver, I understand that you're developing WAAS systems for other countries. Is that true?
Mr. WEAVER. That is correct. We are attempting to sell a WAAS system into the Japanese infrastructure, and that is the only point of penetration we've made so far. But we would do it around the world as we evolve the system.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Are there any other countries besides Japan that's trying to develop this system with any other companies, that you know of?
Mr. WEAVER. I believe that Thompson CSF of France is attempting to develop a system as well.
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Mr. LIPINSKI. That's a company in France. Are they trying to do it for the French government, or are they trying to do it for some other government, or a number of governments?
Mr. WEAVER. I think they're attempted to sell it throughout Europe and anyplace else a buyer would be available. They are providing an air traffic control system which we competed with them on in Australia. I think ultimately they will try and do it there.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Do you know if other countries are taking a different approach to this than the FAA is taking? Maybe Dr. Donohue would like to answer this, too, but, Mr. Weaver, if you would be kind enough to answer it first, if you can.
Mr. WEAVER. I think I'll defer to Dr. Donohue. I'm not aware of any.
Dr. DONOHUE. Sir, because we're all signatories of the Chicago Convention, we have to work international radio navigation signals and standards in an international forum. We have had the WAAS design in front of that forum for at least 3 years now, to try to get international acceptance on the formats of the message and all the technical details of this system.
Foreign aircraft that fly into our air space must have equipment that is operational with our system, as we must be operational as our aircraft fly into other parts of the world. The WAAS design has now, I believe, been accepted virtually as the world standard for wide augmentation. For local augmentation, we are also still working with ICAO and we're not quite as far along. But I think both the European system, which Mr. Weaver mentioned that Thompson is trying to develop, and the Japanese system, which I believe Hughes is actually one of the prime contractors on, are all being designed to the same interface technical standards.
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Mr. LIPINSKI. And you do follow the developments of the situation in Japan through Hughes and of Thompson in France as closely as possible through the FAA?
Dr. DONOHUE. Yes, sir, we follow it closely.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Would it be feasible and would it be less expensive for everyone involved if there were some kind of consortium put together, the Japanese, the French, and ourselves in trying to develop this system? It seems to me that, as you just mentioned, when this is implemented, it has to be the same system all over the world. It would seem to me that there should be some efforts made to try to have a united effort here also in order to keep down the cost. Has anyone thought of that, considered that? And anyone on the panel can certainly talk about this.
Mr. WEAVER. I'd like to respond. I think the FAA as the leader in this particular effort is taking the proper role. When you attempt to do it with consortiums and there is diverse workshares involved, the interfaces become more complicated, the requirements become more diverse, everybody is trying to serve their particular situation, the costs tend to rise and the schedules do not get met. We do team very well with European companies on many occasions, but on this one I think where the safety of the infrastructure is at pace, I think we're going in the right direction.
Mr. LIPINSKI. We're all in agreement that we have to wind up with the same system in the United States, Europe, Japan, the rest of the world. I don't really know how we would wind up having conflicts in that if we all have to come up with the same system. I could be wrong, but it just seems to me that it would be a lot less expensive, we'd have a lot more people involved in it and working on it and we could probably get it accomplished a lot quicker.
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Mr. Weaver doesn't think so. Is there anybody on the panel that might disagree with Mr. Weaver and agree with me? If not, you may hold your silence.
Dr. DONOHUE. I would like to agree with both of you.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you.
Dr. DONOHUE. I would just point out that this actually is a very interesting and complicated system of cooperation and competition. We are cooperating extremely closely with Canada and Mexico, and I have also been in South America trying to see how we can take advantage of the fact that these geostationary satellites intrinsically provide hemispherical coverage. The marginal cost to our neighbors is relatively small. Now, that's good news for them. We're, obviously, the leader, and I think leaders typically take this on, we're paying for the development.
I think what Japan is doing in working with U.S. contractors for their system, they are taking advantage of the technical specifications that we at the FAA have developed. And I think the industrial base that the U.S. has developed in working with us is in, some sense, a savings in a net sense for the world in moving in this direction. We're much more competitive, I think, right now between our industry and European industry, and so there are issues of market share where sometimes cooperation and competition get into each other's way. Certainly for the ground part of the system, I think that what we're doing is probably, practically speaking, the optimum.
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As we move to satellite-based navigation systems in the future, we're going to have relatively few satellites in orbit that will have to actually do multiple things, more than just navigation correction. We're moving to a world of world-wide communication with aircraft. I believe that as we look into the future to the 21st century, that perhaps closer cooperation on the space-based segments, perhaps multiple ownership or, if not ownership, leasing or host leasing arrangements need to be worked out. I think that's where we're going in the future.
Mr. WEAVER. I agree.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Weaver, it is Hughes that is working with Japan at the present time; correct?
Mr. WEAVER. That's correct.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Landon, I wanted to ask you a question in regards to a situation with a second GPS frequency for civil use. This is a paramount issue to FAA and the WAAS program. You stated in your testimony that the Departments of Defense and Transportation will expand efforts to identify a second frequency and complete a plan by March 1998. What issues have to be resolved before a second frequency can be agreed upon?
Mr. LANDON. Sir, we're working very closely I would say with the Department of Transportation in trying to resolve some of these issues. It actually goes beyond just the satellite. We had made an attempt to identify a second frequency earlier, as you may know, and, frankly, we failed. However, I find that failure fairly constructive because we started to understand the needs of each of the departments in a really very diverse area.
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The second frequency issue involves a number of things, but probably one of the major issues will be where in the spectrum we put the second frequency. As you know, the radio frequency is broken up into various areas. How we protect the frequency from interference is critical, and also actually operating the frequency so that we can do a lot of the corrections. But we have a list of diverse uses for the frequency. Of course, our concern is in the national security area; how do we maintain use of it, how do we maintain the advantage of a navigation signal from space. So we're working towards these issues and we're working aggressively towards being able to identify that frequency by March 1998.
Mr. LIPINSKI. The other day when I was speaking to Dr. Donohue he was trying to explain to me in detail and in depth about these frequencies. Unfortunately, I was a hopeless case. But I do want to say that he also said that he felt the cooperation that the FAA and the Department of Transportation is receiving from the Department of Defense has been excellent. I was extremely happy to hear that.
DOD is committed to meeting a March 1998 deadline for this. Whether you're an optimist or a pessimist or a middle-of-the-roader, do you think that this goal will be achieved?
Mr. LANDON. It is probably early to tell, sir. I can tell you that some people have asked us if we could already slip that date and we've said no, that we have a stake in the ground there. We are going to pursue that date and identify the frequency. If we have not come up with a solution by then, we will certainly know a lot more of the issues involved. But we are aggressively pursuing that.
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Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you very much.
Mr. Chairman, I have some more questions but my time is long since up, so I'll come back in a second round. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Lipinski.
Vice Chairman Blunt?
Mr. BLUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Donohue, I have one initial question here that if it's more complicated than I think it is, just give it to me in writing. I don't want to use up my 5 minutes with an answer to this question. On the fourth chart that you showed us in terms of the implementation of the program, the one that had full GEO compliment on it, is that intended to be part of the phase-in, or did you say that was somebody else's alternative?
Dr. DONOHUE. No, sir. If we accepted two satellites as being adequate and we stopped at Phase I, that is effectively what we would be able to provide in the way of availability for precision Category I. We do not believe that is the right place to stop. That's why we believe we need to go all the way to Phase III. But if that's not an adequate answer, we could go into much more
Mr. BLUNT. No, that's very close to adequate. In Phase I, will this be an available part of Phase I? Are you going to have more satellites available in Phase I?
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Dr. DONOHUE. No, sir. In Phase I, we're only going to be able to have the two satellites that we currently have on orbit and under contract. As has been discussed here earlier this morning, where we get two more satellites from is an issue we have to resolve fairly quickly.
Mr. BLUNT. And so if you have those two satellites available in Phase I, is that full GEO compliment chart sort of overlaid on the other chart that showed where you just had the western half blue area?
Dr. DONOHUE. It's trying to get better coverage by waiving a requirement. One of the reasons why the other chart showed that most of the availability was west of the Mississippi is because that's where the two satellites we currently have in orbit have overlap. And so we have full redundancy in space on that area, plus we have ground stations there. It does get actually a lot more complicated when we go into where we put the ground stations and how the satellites interact. So not wanting to use up your time, we'd be happy to come back and give you more information.
Mr. BLUNT. I was just interested in where you were headed with that last alternative and why it was an alternative as opposed to part of the phase-in. It looked to me like the western half was basically more west of the 98th or 100th meridian as opposed tothat's where that blue block appears to be, some distance west still of the Mississippi River. Of course, I'm a Missourian, so I'd be more conscious of where that line is. But it looked to me like it was west of Missouri instead of west of the Mississippi.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. DONOHUE. I actually had a chart that showed that. But, again, I don't want to use up your time. I can show you exactly
Mr. BLUNT. Okay. You might get back to me on sort of where that phase-in is, and I think it is probably about where I suggested it was.
[The information received follows:]
Mr. BLUNT. I was concerned about one of the statements you made about the briefings that occurred in 1995, which is part of the reason we're having this hearing. I think you said, if I wrote it down right, we're talking about whether or not this was $604 million or $958 million and what you knew at the time, and I think you said FAA widely briefed that number to congressional staff but it was not effectively briefed to the world. My impression was that, at least the Members of Congress feel that the committee did not get the bigger number.
But I think I heard you say today that the congressional staff was briefed with the larger number but the world was not effectively briefed. I'm confused about what Congress knew in 1995. I wasn't here in 1995, but my impression is that the $604 million number was the number that everybody believed. Did the staff not tell the committee what you had told them, or what did I hear here?
Dr. DONOHUE. Sir, the hearing in 1995, which I testified at, was really very much focused on the Wilcox contract. Perhaps this was my error in not being more verbose at that time to try to say that there was a significant amount of effort outside of that Wilcox contract. Therefore, I think a lot of attention, in hindsight, was focused on about a $500 million budget since that was roughly what the Wilcox contract was for.
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Most of our discussion with congressional staff, quite frankly, had been with appropriations staff, and, because of working out budget issues, we did provide them information as they requested it throughout our entire history. It is always hard to get to all of the staff. There is really no forum for us other than in hearings like this to be able to have this sort of discussion where we can get to members of the staff. I think that's one of the areas where we need to work better. That's one of the things that Dr. Dillingham and I have been talking about, is a way of communicating to Congress all of these details in a more routine fashion.
Mr. BLUNT. Mr. Dillingham, did your review of this indicate that that's roughly your sense of what happened? How would you suggest that would have been better handled by FAA and maybe by this committee in finding out what was really going on or being told what was really going on?
Mr. DILLINGHAM. Yes, sir. That's not exactly the way we understood it from talking with committee staff, both here in the House and in the Senate. The understanding that we got from committee staff is that they were not informed of the top-end estimate and that, in fact, they subsequently found out that the agency knew what the top-end estimate was and what the range was and even had a confidence level for that. But they did not get that information.
That's evident by the fact that the Senate, when they did the appropriations bill for this year, they, in fact, included a requirement that there be quarterly reports made to the Congress that will be reviewed by GAO to follow up on cost, schedule, and performance changes. So I agree with Dr. Donohue that we do, indeed, need to work on that, but clearly from our work in both houses, the staff nor the members were aware.
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Mr. BLUNT. Thank you.
Dr. DONOHUE. Could I clarify?
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes, Dr. Donohue, very briefly, but I want to give Mr. Oberstar a chance to ask some questions. So very quickly.
Dr. DONOHUE. I just want to clarify, yes. I did not mean to tell you that we were giving the ranges of the high and low that I gave earlier. We did not do that. But at the time of the Wilcox award, the bottom end of that estimate had gone up because we always showed, I believe, certainly with the appropriations staffers, that there were efforts outside of the contract.
Mr. BLUNT. You may want to review your comments about widely briefed the congressional staff and see if you think that accurately reflects what you wanted to reflect. Maybe I heard it wrong, maybe I just wasn't listening carefully.
I certainly don't want to stand in the way of Mr. Oberstar asking his questions because I always benefit from the answers to them, so I'll finish, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Blunt.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. OBERSTAR. I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Blunt, thank you also for your kind words.
In light of the time constraints, I'm going to be very brief and very targeted. The dollar amounts are significant and important, but to understand what's driving them, we need to know what underlies the point of difficulty which we are at and which has plagued this program, going back to the Wilcox contract and right now.
Mr. Mead, you followed this issue very closely during your years at GAO and more intensively now at the IG's level in DOT. What are the driving forces behind the delays in this program? Is it software development, is it systems integration which is supposed to be FAA's long suit, is it the difficulty of resolving the availability of the satellites, or a combination thereof, or something else that I haven't thought of? Without getting into a detailed discussion of it, can you just identify the elements of the problem so that we can better understand the direction in which we're headed.
Mr. MEAD. Yes, sir. Technically, I do not think that this program is as challenging as the AAS. The items you mentioned though, identifying the satellites, the systems integration, are key issues that are responsible for the delay, plus the Wilcox contract and the performance of that contract, to which Dr. Donohue can speak better than I.
As to the confusion on the cost, it was being reported in three different ways to lots of different people. One figure was the contract cost to Wilcox or Hughes. A second figure was the contract cost plus other program costs that were outside the contract. And a third figure was the life-cycle cost; that is, how much it was going to cost to buy the equipment, program costs outside the contract plus the cost to operate and maintain it over a period of years. Three different figures, that's a raison d'etre for a great deal of confusion not only in Congress, sir, but at the Department of Transportation.
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Mr. OBERSTAR. Do you have confidence, Mr. Mead, that FAA has those three problems under control?
Mr. MEAD. Yes, sir. I can tell you that the Deputy Secretary, the Secretary, the FAA Administrator, and Dr. Donohue are all very interested in getting that under control. I wouldn't say we're there yet, but we've definitely identified the problem. It will be taken under control.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Will that be a major focus of your role as IG, to assure that they stay on track and resolve those problems?
Mr. MEAD. Yes, sir. I was as confused as everybody else.
Mr. OBERSTAR. If you will keep your thumb on the button, I think I will have a great deal of confidence that this will move in the right direction.
Dr. Donohue, very briefly again, recognize we've got very little time here, address those underlying problems and what is being done to focus the initiative.
Dr. DONOHUE. First of all, I think the policy of using total life-cycle costs from the very beginning on all programs will greatly diminish future confusion. And part of the problem here is we took a program that was under an old system and we tried to bring it into a new, much more responsible system and that, unfortunately, has added to some of the confusion. But I think from now on, with our baseline that will be much easier to handle the accounting. I'll work closely with Mr. Mead and the IG to make sure that we do that very well, and that it's properly reported to Congress.
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I think there are three basic reasons why we had a cost growth in this program after we let the contract to Wilcox. The first was an underestimation by the FAA technical people, as well as the contractor, on the difficulty of getting safety of flight certifiable software that used a large amount of commercial off-the-shelf software which was necessary. That led to about $150 million increase in a redesign.
The second one was an estimation of the availability of commercial host satellites. We over-estimated the availability of those satellites and we now have to redress that.
The third is that we got into a poor management situation that had nothing to do with technical or satellite availability. We caught that very early. The new systems, in fact, were in place to do that, and we have corrected. That is now under control. The Hughes contract is being managed very well. That's something else we learned in our lessons: we're learning that with all of our contracts, is when we give an award to a contractor, we have to look at their management systems, as well as their technical capability and their cost proposals. That's a lesson learned.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much. That's a very candid and frank answer, and that's refreshing in committee testimony. I want to compliment Administrator Hinson, but you, particularly, because you were the one that brought the bad news to them about the Wilcox contract.
Dr. DONOHUE. Yes, sir.
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Mr. OBERSTAR. He I know asked you directly can this be fixed within X time and within X dollar amount, and you said no. So he did the right thing. It was a tough call to make for an administrator to terminate a contract. But that's what we expect of FAA, to get hold of these problems and contain the losses, admit there have been management errors, go in and correct them, get it on track. If it's not a software problem, if it's not a technical problem, it's a management problem, then we expect you to manage it, and I have confidence that you canwith some oversight, as we're doing today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar.
We will take a brief recess while we go cast this vote that is in progress.
Mr. DUNCAN. The subcommittee will come to order.
We will continue with this panel, and I go at this time for a second round of questions or any closing comments.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, this is an enormously knowledgeable, intelligent panel. I do have a lot of other questions that I'd like to have them answer. But as you know, we have a logistics problem coming up here, because we're going to be faced very shortly on the Floor of the House with 14 votes on suspensions, and we also want to get to the second panel.
So I would like to make a suggestion to you that anyone, including myself, that has additional questions for this panel, if we could give them to them and they could answer them in writing, we could dismiss this panel, move on to the second panel, get an opportunity to ask them some questions before we wind up in a situation where we have 14 continual suspension votes.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, I think that's a good suggestion. I would like to give Mr. Bass an opportunity to ask some questions at this time since he did not have a chance to ask any questions earlier. Then we'll try to move on through this. You are correct, we do have a large number of votes coming up.
Mr. BASS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the suggestion by my distinguished colleague from Illinois which I will heed.
I would like to commend the chairman for this hearing. I think this is a very interesting topic. It's one that I've had some interface with as a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. I'd like to perhaps throw out on the table a couple of questions which could either be responded to at a future date, in an interview in my office or by mail, so we can get to the next panel.
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We have for aviation an existing ground-based navigation system that, in my opinion, is extraordinarily reliable and accurate, considering the conditions under which the ground-based instruments, VORs and so forth, have to operate out in the middle of nowhere. The radio communications work well. What we're trying to do here, as I understand it, is to improve the quality and, as a subcategory of that, the accuracy and versatility of air navigation.
It seems to me that as part of the process of implementing this new Wide Area Augmentation System, WAAS, we ought to go through a phase whereby we integrate it both in the form of instrumentation as well as capability with the existing land-based system, obviously not decommissioning the land-based system. Because the land-based system has its advantages as does the space-based system working together.
I want to ask you what the status of the local area augmentation system is, and you don't have to respond now. I also am wondering if we are exploring the issue of passing on to other countries the cost of developing this technology in one form or another. I'd also like to know more details about how the Patuxent Naval Air Station test is going to be conducted, how you're going to do it.
I don't think that you need to respond now, but if at some point somebody could either call me or respond in writing, I'd be interested in exploring that.
And I want to commend you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. This has been very informative and helpful for me. I yield back.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Dr. Donohue, would you like to respond?
Dr. DONOHUE. Yes, I'll just take the action to come brief you on these points. We'll be happy to do that.
Mr. BASS. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Gentlemen, as I said at the start in my opening statement, this is a very technical subject and so perhaps it doesn't have the appeal that some of our hearings have to some of our members. But I personally regard this as a very, very important subject. And really we would be shirking our duties and our responsibilities if we did not look at it probably even more than we have. We had a good hearing on this 2 years ago, and I know your testimony today has been very helpful to me and I think it has to many of the other members as well.
Thank you very much for being with us today.
We will now proceed to the second panel, panel two. We have on panel two Mr. Phil Boyer, who is the president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Mr. Boyer was with us at a hearing yesterday, and he's always been in my opinion one of the most effective and articulate witnesses that we've had before this subcommittee. We're honored today also to have Professor Bradford W. Parkinson of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University; and Mr. Jack Ryan, who is vice president for Air Traffic Management at the Air Transport Association of America.
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Gentlemen, it's a privilege and honor to have you with us. We will proceed as usual in the order as listed on the Notice of Hearing. So that means Mr. Boyer will proceed first.
TESTIMONY OF PHIL BOYER, PRESIDENT, AIRCRAFT OWNERS AND PILOTS ASSOCIATION; BRADFORD W. PARKINSON, PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF AERONAUTICS AND ASTRONAUTICS, STANFORD UNIVERSITY; AND JACK RYAN, VICE PRESIDENT, AIR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT, AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
Mr. BOYER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's a pleasure to be back again another day. I think we're going to be very untypical of AOPA legislative action which represents 340,000 general aviation pilots in the United States. We've been here, long before your time, but some will remember, before this committee on MLS, a major transitional program, we've been here on AAS, as a matter of fact, history tells me that we were here on VORs and ILSes, and we opposed them all. This time I must tell you Mr. Donohue will be pleased that he's wearing our pin and watch today because we are in strong support of GPS.
This is a technology that general aviation and all of aviation, and all in transportation will embrace. I would maintain that the technology, perhaps not the management or the cost of the program, is certainly not a boondoggle as far as aviation is concerned.
I asked around the office, obviously made up of about 30 percent pilots on our staff, ''Any of you have any props I can bring to the committee hearing?'' as you know I'm prone to do. Immediately these came across my desk by just asking about six pilots, and two of these are from one pilot, by the way, they own more than one. These are all portable GPS units, all with an accuracy of 300 feet, or the 100 meters you heard. In my car from the factory is a unit, as a matter of fact, like Congressman Oberstar talked about, that shows where you are.
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And to eliminate some of the confusion of WAAS and LAAS, Congressman Bass, I might indicate that the car units like this that are uncorrected from the DOD signals will show you somewhere near the highway you're on, like maybe in the gully or the ditch nearby. With the WAAS correction system, what we're talking about here, you will be on the four-lane highway. And with LAAS, which ATA will speak about, you will know what lane you're in on the highway. So it's that kind of difference in accuracy rather than the FAA's pictures.
Please do not discontinue or slow down this program. Ken Mead, the IG who has been associated with us from a long time, was very accurate when he had that poster up there indicating this being only a part of a major integrated new system, very dependent on the implementation of the WAAS signal to get on with the other things that have to be done. Delays in this program could prove fatal to saving the American public millions of dollars and providing aviation much greater safety.
And why am I talking about that? A major component that hasn't been spoken about today so far is user equipage. We've got to get these boxes in all of the airplanes that fly today. And 160,000 of 180,000 aircraft belong primarily to the general aviation fleet, or my members. We've got to give them the benefits that this system comes along with. We can't provide coverage in half of the country and expect that manufacturers are going to have a robust selection of equipment. We can't provide only approach capability in half of the country and think that our members are going to equip nation-wide.
We've got to get this program continuing to stay on track and underway. And then the FAA has got to address many other thingsapproaches to airports, designing these approaches, they've got to address the human factors, the Pax River effort that you talked about that the Air Safety Foundation from AOPA was very involved in. We've got to look at what are we retaining as a backup system as we decommission navigation aids, perhaps land/sea is that. The satellite issue is critical. And then affordable databases, the units are only accurate for about 30 days and then you have to have a $600 subscription for databases. Of course, for these you don't need it, it's for the boxes that will be used for approaches that you'll need it.
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The economics are fantastic. An ILS today, which many airports are petitioning you as their congressmen and women to put in, are $1.5 million to $2 million. The LAAS boxes for airports will be somewhere between $100,000 and $500,000. The maintenance of the present land-based system, around $200 million a year.
FAA is not the only agency, it's just the lead agency that should be tasked with this. I would maintain that the Department of Transportation, the Commerce Department as a whole should be looked at and how they're funding the system. This has got agricultural advantages, it has got railroad, it has got maritime, surface transportation, even campers, hikers, and bikers are carrying little units like this. So GPS is tremendously effective.
I ask you to look at our written testimony, and, in closing, would ask the committee to continue its constant review of the FAA's modernization programs, all of them, but to allow the FAA to move forward with all speed in the most efficient and rapid manner as possible on GPSWAAS.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Boyer.
Dr. PARKINSON. Thank you, sir. You probably don't know why I'm here, but I was the original program director for GPS. We have a very active program on GPS at Stanford University that is exploring certain aspects. For example, right now I can report to you we have a prototype of WAAS operating and there is some data in the handout that I gave that shows vertical accuracies typically 39 meters without WAAS, now at about 1.5 meters (one sigma) with WAAS.
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But I would like to take a slightly different slant on WAAS, and I would like to suggest we should view its purposes as part of a national or possibly international system. So stepping back just slightly, some very quick background.
GPS sets are now being installed at a rate in excess of 100,000 a month. The costs of the sets, as this volume is increased, have plummeted. The chips that go into a car typically cost well under $50 for a GPS set. Now, that's not an aviation set. The current installed based of GPS in the world is over 3 million sets, by the way, 1 million are in Japan. The applications are far broader than aircraft. They include surveyors, time synchronization, our power gridthe 60 cycles is synchronized using GPSCommunications systems are synchronized using GPS. The consequence of all this activity is an export balance of over $500 million. So I think GPS has been very favorable to the United States.
Turning to the future, I see the next 15 years or so as that of expanded application, and WAAS will support them all. I also include in your handout a very curious picture for an aviation committee, it's this picture, which is a picture of a tractor. This is a robotic farm tractor which is being operatedthere's some data in the handout as wellto an accuracy of about plus or minus 1 inch, a factor of 2 to 3 better than the best human driver over a rough field. There are potentially millions of like users in open pit mines, in the docking of ships. WAAS will help them all. The estimated number of users by 2010 is over 50 million. That's over 2 million users for every GPS satellite.
However, there are a few clouds. I think there are three critical issues for the continued expansion of GPS. One is robustness, and I will explain that briefly in just a minute. The second is achieving world-wide standardization. The third is international acceptablility.
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Robustness includes the standard aviation parametersaccuracy, where am I; availability, or perhaps unavailability; and integritythe World-wide standardization is essential for inter-operability, and we heard that discussed a little earlier. Last, international acceptance of the system hinges on the perception that local authorities have control over the system.
The first point is that WAAS will help resolve all three of those critical issues. WAAS will improve GPS robustness for all users: accuracy, 2 meters, 1 sigma; availability, the additional ranging signal helps prevent signal blockages in farm fields or blockages by tall buildings when you're driving a car; and integrity, the WAAS notification in seven seconds tells all users be careful with satellite X, you can't use it right now.
Second, WAAS creates a new world-wide standard. I think this is extremely important. Through WAAS we are, indeed, confirming our leadership in the world for this critical technology.
And lastly, international control. These WAAS-like augmentations provide each region control over accuracy, control over availability, control over integrity. That's quite important for international acceptance.
So my conclusion is that WAAS is an essential element of U.S. national strategy, not just transportation. I agree with the gentleman on my left, Mr. Boyer, it is far more than transportation. Certainly, it will provide Category I precision approaches at all airports, but also will greatly enhance robustness for all users. WAAS will provide a U.S. world-wide standard, leading WAAS-like systems in all regions, and adding to accelerated global acceptance. And the consequence will be two powerful pay-offs safer transportation activities for the public as well as favorable export balances.
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So my recommendation is that the committee and Congress continue to strongly support WAAS as an essential augmentation to GPS for all users. I think it will ensure GPS robustness and safety, not just for aircraft. It will also expand the international acceptance, and it will strengthen U.S. global leadership. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Professor Parkinson.
Unfortunately, we have an unexpected vote that has come up on a motion to adjourn. So we are going to have to break once again. I apologize especially to Mr. Ryan, but we will try to make this break as short as possible.
The committee will be in brief recess.
Mr. DUNCAN. The subcommittee will be in order.
I apologize for interrupting things. Mr. Ryan, you may proceed with your testimony.
Mr. RYAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon. I am Jack Ryan, vice president of Air Traffic Management of the Air Transport Association of America. On behalf of ATA and our member carriers, I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the committee members for this opportunity to provide our views on the FAA Wide Area Augmentation System.
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ATA still supports implementing WAAS technology in our National Airspace System. However, we do not support the implementation of WAAS technology at any cost, without active civilian involvement in daily GPS operations, or without concurrent development and implementation of real world operational benefits. Unfortunately, this is where we are today in the WAAS program. Unbounded cost growth without management accountability, total civil dependency on a system owned and operated by the DOD, and little, if any, emphasis on the development of operational procedures and accompanying air traffic changes to obtain real world benefits. Positive action must be taken now to prevent the WAAS acronym from becoming a euphemism for worse than AAS.
Mr. Chairman, if I may, I would like to show two charts to the committee at this time. Chart number one, on the right, is a comparison of the cost of the initial WAAS contract in August 1995, and that of the October 1996 contract that was brought about under procurement reform. The contract has gone from $475 million to over $658 million. I am only talking about the documented contract costs. These figures are not the same as the illusive and varied estimates of $1 billion in April 1997, or the $842 million one month later in May 1997, both of which were quoted in the recent GAO study.
We have gone from a turnkey contract where total system performance is the responsibility of the prime contractor to a piecemeal contract where the FAA has assumed responsibility for fitting the pieces together and ensuring total system performance. Chart number two, on the left, highlights examples of some of the differences in requirements for both contracts. As you can see, many requirements have been deleted or relaxed across the board. What this means is that the contractor is required to do less than the initial contractor and, yes, they get paid more for it.
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The largest and most significant WAAS-related institutional concern is the total DOD operation and control of GPS. Without the GPS, a civil WAAS will not work. If the FAA transitions a National Airspace System from a civil controlled ground navigation infrastructure to a GPS-based infrastructure without changing the current GPS institutional arrangement, then DOD, not the FAA, will have the final word in the provision of civil navigation services.
We have yet to see the evidence of operational benefits being seriously pursued in the WAAS program. This is very troublesome. In fact, in April 1997, 1 year after awarding a new WAAS contract with a fanfare about procurement reform, the FAA acknowledged that the initial implementation of WAAS will not meet minimum standards equivalent to existing Category I ILS approach service.
Mr. Chairman, if we can't rely on WAAS to provide us the same level of safety and service we get from today's ground-based systems, how can we responsibly endorse a space-based system-wide transition? I'm afraid the answer is we can't. Money alone won't get us there. The WAAS architecture program and management practices need to be re-evaluated.
In conclusion, we recommend that a WAAS technology time-out be taken after fielding the initial WAAS system consisting of 24 reference stations; a program be developed and implemented to provide active civil representation, on site presence, participation and authority in daily GPS operations, control, and decision-making; FAA seriously pursue a program to develop and implement operational procedures that will provide benefit to airspace users, and will provide equal or better safety and service as compared to today's ground systems; and lastly, the creation of a joint FAA-airspace user steering committee that will have full and open access to detailed WAAS program information and funding levels.
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After we have a system that works and we are achieving some operational benefit, then and only then should a business decision be made to either progress the WAAS technology or invest in some other important National Airspace System program.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony. I look forward to answering your questions.
Mr. DUNCAN. Very interesting testimony, Mr. Ryan.
I have some questions but I am going to go first to Mr. Lipinski.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My first question is going to be for the permanent member of our panel, Mr. Boyer. I think Mr. Boyer is here as often as you and I, Chairman. Mr. Boyer, you note in your statement that there is a need for a backup system to WAAS. This seems to make sense. What is the FAA's position on this? What options are available and what are their costs?
Mr. BOYER. The FAA has still not put into place a complete decommissioning plan for the land-based navigation aids. But as you heard Dr. Donohue cite, when we get to FOC, or full operational capability of the system, they will then begin to look at a transition timetable.
AOPA maintains that our members need at least the ICAO standard, the international aviation body, of 7 years to make any transition. Of course, we prefer to have 10 years before you have to lock into a brand new system and the old one is shut down. We're working with the FAA as they are developing this from a user standpoint.
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But at the same time, we believe that the LORAN-C system, which is in right now, that is very robust and very inexpensive to continue to operate, may provide for general aviation the backup system that's needed until we have confirmed there are no integrity problems, there are no jamming problems, there are no interference problems with GPS. Our hue and cry to the committee would be, and several times we've asked, that end date for LORAN-C be advanced beyond the current FAA thinking of the year 2000 to at least 2005 where we have that 4-year period that Dr. Donohue talked about.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Phil, you urged in your statement that WAAS be viewed as a national resource rather than an aviation only system. What is a reasonable way to recover costs from others for the use of this system?
Mr. BOYER. I'd like to give that a little more thought, Congressman Lipinski, and believe me, there's a lot of reasons I should give it more thought, because otherwise the entire cost will be borne by aviation. But I think it is something that the Commerce Department, the Transportation Department, not the FAA, should look at as a whole. Other countries for various alternatives have licensed fees on equipment, have looked at other ways in which to recover something against the cost. But aviation will be in the end, and probably Dr. Parkinson can talk to this, a minority user of the GPS system, aviation itself. We presented today the aviation picture. We will be the minority user. Some way there has to be developed a system to charge the majority users on an equal basis.
Mr. LIPINSKI. I thought for sure, Phil, you'd have about 15 things just off the top of your head that we could spread the cost around.
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Dr. Parkinson, the Air Transport Association has recommended taking a time-out after Phase I of WAAS. In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of this? How would such a time-out affect our leadership role in developing satellite technology for air traffic control?
Dr. PARKINSON. Yes, sir. I believe the Air Transport Association is raising some good issues with the need to plan for operational procedures. But I don't see any technology impediments to deploying this system. I would rather have us not abdicate our leadership role, but instead work cooperatively with the FAA to get the operational procedures and the other necessary prerequisites to using the system in place rather than backing off and failing to deploy something and suddenly losing the moment at hand.
The Europeans are designing EGNOS right now. The Japanese are designing MSAS, which is their equivalent. I think we have to stay in the leadership role.
Mr. LIPINSKI. What was that the Europeans were designing, what was the word?
Dr. PARKINSON. E-G-N-O-S. That's the European GPS Navigation Overlay System. But that is their equivalent of WAAS. I think they are looking for us to take the lead in defining signal structures so that interoperability can happen.
Mr. LIPINSKI. As I mentioned to the earlier panel, don't we have to come up with exactly the same system all around the world in order for this to be truly effective?
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Dr. PARKINSON. We have to come up with a system with equivalent functional capability and the same interface. The details of implementation in terms of the number of reference stations can be different, but what can't be different is the way the data is actually handled in a standard GPS international receiver.
Mr. LIPINSKI. I'm going to ask you the question that I asked the earlier panel. Wouldn't it make some sense to have some kind of consortium world-wide work on this? There's the Thompson Company in France, as I'm sure you heard, you were here for the earlier testimony, Hughes is working with Japan, obviously Hughes is working here in the United States. It just seems to me that there's an awful lot of money involved in this entire operation. Since we have to have one system for the entire world and in order for the program to be effective it has to be a system that's compatible, it just seems to me that there is a road to at least look at going down in trying to put some kind of consortium together so everybody is working on the same program, come up with the same results, and we can all share the expense so Phil's people won't have to pay for all this that's going on to benefit the entire world.
Dr. PARKINSON. Sir, I can't refute the logic of what you say. But I will make the following comment. The United States is probably 3 to 4 years ahead of them. The Europeans have come to us at Stanford. We have an operational WAAS prototype called the National Satellite Testbed at Stanford. We have software that is working, and we're working closely with the Hughes people to ensure that all the knowledge we have on those algorithms are imparted to them. But the Europeans are not there. And as a partner, I don't see that they bring a lot to the table in fielding it. And on the other hand, I see our industry in a leadership position with an ability to sell components, satellites to other regions of the world by maintaining that leadership.
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So, to me, it's a little bit of a trade-off. If you go in and have them as partners, it seems to me they are going to slow the process down and perhaps somewhat dilute our leadership position. And speaking as an American patriot, I'd just as soon see us stay as leaders.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Well, I certainly concur with your last statement there.
Mr. Chairman, that's enough questioning by me at the present time. I'll be happy to ask a few more questions my second time around. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. COOKSEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Of the three of you, are any of you pilots?
Mr. RYAN. No.
Mr. COOKSEY. Mr. Ryan, you're not a pilot?
Mr. RYAN. I'm not, no. I'm an air traffic controller.
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Mr. COOKSEY. Okay. Who has technical backgrounds, aeronautical aviation backgrounds, education? You do, I assume, Dr. Parkinson?
Dr. PARKINSON. Right. I am a private pilot with flight experience at the Air Force Test Pilot School. It depends on what aspect you're talking about. I'm also a controls engineer, not a structural engineer. So if this is a structures question, I'm going to be in trouble.
Mr. COOKSEY. I have the feeling that this system has great potential, I know it has potential. In 1991 and 1992, I was in East Africa in Mozambique and there was a civil war going on. I'd been in Kenya and Tanzania over the years and South Africa, but the only way we were able to fly from Mapunta, the capital, up to Indian Body Bay over territory that was 90 percent controlled by the guerrillas was to use an early model GPS. We were in a Cessna 402 which I used to fly. There were no VORs on the ground which I was used to using, so in 199192, in the closing days of that civil war, that system worked. I'm impressed that it's out there.
Mr. Ryan, the two most dangerous things in our area are a lawyer with a chain saw and a doctor flying an airplane.
Mr. COOKSEY. And I don't claim to be any different from the other doctors. But I have the feeling from your position, the ATA position, that you only want the major carriers to have this ability for precision approaches and you don't want the rest of us that are in general aviation flying smaller planes to haveI fly a Baron when I fly. That's basically what you would be doing. Why is it that you don't want the rest of us to have access to precision approaches at smaller airports?
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Mr. RYAN. Well, sir, that's certainly not ATA's position, nor mine. If my testimony gave you that impression, then I apologize because that's certainly not the case.
As I said at the beginning of my testimony, we want WAAS. We want it as much as anybody in this room. But we're not willing to spend over a billion dollars with questionable benefits to get WAAS. And in our suggestion, for instance, to have a technology time-out, if you will, we don't mean that to be the end of the game. At the end of Phase I, we want all of the users in the airspace system in a steering committee kind of forum to get together with the FAA to decide how we must move forward with the further benefits that we can gain.
As it is right now, based on our analysis, in the $483.5 million Hughes contract, $220 million is in Phase I and $263 million is in Phase II and Phase III. Most of the benefits, talking about primary means of navigation, domestic United States, en route through non-precision approach, occur in Phase I. This morning Dr. Donohue announced something that we ought to be elated about because it was in question for a number of months and years, which is will Phase I, Phase II, or Phase III ever provide Category I precision approach, and the key here is down to 200 feet decision height. He said this morning that it would I believe he said in Phase III.
We should be elated with that except that I'm nervous because I have a question, and the question is this: FAA's current standards for an instrument approach, an ILS approach, requires an accuracy of 4.1 meters. The Hughes specification and the Wilcox that preceded it is only required to provide 7.6 meters. That means there's 3.5 meters difference between what the requirement is to do a Category I ILS approach and what Hughes is required to produce. That makes me nervous because I want to know what is the trade-off here? Am I trading off safety? Am I trading off a new procedure that's untested? I don't know that.
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Mr. COOKSEY. There's a 3 meter difference there and that seems relatively close to me. When you compare 4 meters to 7 meters, that does not seem to be a great differential.
Anyway, that's my general concern. You used very strong statements in your written testimony and I questioned it because
Mr. RYAN. Sir, we want everybody to share in WAAS. We don't want it just for ourselves, we want Phil and his pilots and everyone else to share in it.
Mr. COOKSEY. Good. Yes, Dr.Parkinson?
Dr. PARKINSON. If I could just add something. The statistical results that we are now getting at Stanford, real time, continent-wide, are showing the ability to do the 4 meters. I think there is some caution in the FAA adopting that as a spec, but I think it is a matter of evolving the software to the point that it is robust, has the proper algorithms, and it is my personal belief that over time it will definitely be able to do that.
Mr. COOKSEY. Good. I'm an eye surgeon, so I'm used to talking in terms of millimeters instead of meters. Anyway, I'll try to adapt.
Yes, Mr. Boyer?
Mr. BOYER. I would just like to add one thing to that, to what Jack said. You should not walk away with the idea that users are now not in consultation with the FAA. I run a 180-person organization and we're running out of people to go to the meetings that we go to with FAA. Therefore, I would maintain that if we went any further on discussions and keeping in touch with what's going on in this, we could end up with the same delays that would come from going to the European and Japanese countries. So the committee should not have the idea that the users are not talking constantly to the FAA about this.
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Mr. COOKSEY. Good. Well, my concern is that this be put in place and I think it can be useful. Of course, we've got an opportunity to jump out ahead from a technological standpoint, and I think it could be advantageous to us and everyone else.
I am impressed, Mr. Ryan, that you're concerned about the cost factor, because so often we have people who come to these committees and they want more money. Everybody we see in Washington wants more Federal money when we're saying we're going to have less. I just happened to have checked, and it is my understanding that each major aircraft accident costs approximately $100 million. So if we did spend a billion dollars or let's say an extra $500 million, it would be a good investment in reducing the cost of these airline accidents just in terms of dollars, not to mention the emotional loss to families. So from that standpoint, to me it looks like a good investment. But again, I'm one of those doctors flying an airplane and we are dangerous. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Cooksey.
Mr. BASS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We've got another good panel.
Mr. Ryan, I would suggest that if standards are relaxed from 4 meters to whatever you said it was, 7 or so meters, probably what happens is the result is not necessarily a safety concern but the landing is less accurate, so therefore the decision height would be higher and you wouldn't be able to use it as frequently and it wouldn't be as reliable.
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I'm wondering what other National Airspace System program you have in mind? At the very termination of your testimony you mentioned that as an option. What do you think a decision to pursue some other program would have on the potential to complete the WAAS program?
Mr. RYAN. Well, first of all, I'm not sure that I would dismiss the 3.5 meters difference between 7.6 and 4.1. As a matter of fact, one of the potential solutions to not being able to reach that is to raise the decision height to 250 or 300 feet. Of course, as of this time, I don't know how FAA is going to do 200 feet. I just know that Dr. Donohue said that they would. Now what that means if you drive it to 250 or 300 and you go on with FAA's 3.0 architecture which is to remove ILSes, then you now have a higher minimum standard with a newer system than you had with the older system. I'm not so sure that we should be going for a higher decision height and paying a billion dollars for it.
Mr. BASS. Right. And I wasn't suggesting that.
Mr. RYAN. On your other question about other National Airspace programs, there are air traffic control programs, we call them CORE programs, that we're now supporting that are ground-based systems, replacing of the terminal automation at the air traffic control towers, the replacement of the automation at centers, improvements to data link, the introduction of conflict probe into both terminal and en route automation to allow more direct flight.
The original concern is of a declining budget, when the Administration and the Congress reached a 7-year agreement on the budget, there's less money for FAA, and if the cost for WAAS goes from the original $600 million to $1 billion, then that's $400 million that's not available for other important projects in the FAA's ATC system.
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Mr. BASS. If I could follow on with a question, not for you, Mr. Ryan, because we are limited here in time. I think, Mr. Boyer, your testimony gave more support than anything else to the fact that, as you put it in another response, the development of this technology has far greater potential in industries outside of the aviation industry. In fact, I think you said there are 180,000 aircraft and there are over 1 million GPSes, you see it is a minority right there.
It gives great testimony to the fact that we must develop a mechanism for sharing the cost of the development of this technology not only with the military, which I suspect is going to occur anyway, but also with the other industries in this country. It would have tremendous, tremendous benefits, especially in the automobile area, campers, hikers, everything else. This, I think, is one of the deficiencies that has occurred in the GPS area in general, in that it cost a lot to develop GPS satellites and now you can buy these units for $300 or $400. If any of you have any comment in the time that remains.
Mr. RYAN. Yes, Congressman, could I just add on. These are not the only things that are at stake here, and not 3.5 meters and the difference between $600 million and $1 billion in the FAA budget, there's also the expenditure of the equipment to put on the air carriers and the general aviation airplanes that are estimated to be $30,000 a piece and you need to have two, times 4,000 airplanes in the fleet, which is $240 million expenditure to use WAAS.
Mr. BASS. My hope would be, just taking one second to respond, my hope would be that, like any other instrument where you have mass application, the cost would go down in a relative sense pretty quickly.
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But, Mr. Boyer, would you like to comment?
Mr. BOYER. Well, I think the crux of the matter is just exactly as what Jack said, and I think the committee should understand this before closing. Why the aviation community appears to be somewhat split at this table in this testimony, I think he just said itthere are 4,000 aircraft. No, there are 4,000 air transport category aircraft and there are 160,000 general aviation aircraft. We all have to go through the same equipage. Granted, when they sell it to the airlines it is like selling it to the military, it costs a lot more. But there is still a cost for the users.
Let's expand that same universe. There are 17,000 landing facilities in the United States, 5,000 of them public use airports, and only half of those have instrument approaches. But the air carrier industry is concerned mainly about 600 airports only. Those are the airports that they serve with commercial airline transportation. The WAAS system serves all the universe. The airlines will probably have to equip with another system. Now, we talked about the one that puts you on the lane in the highway, the Local Area Augmentation System.
So it's right for them to say we really don't need these benefits past Phase I perhaps en route because we've all got to equip with a more robust system for Category II and Category III landings. That's the small difference as I see it, at least from my perspective here, is that we're talking about the total aviation community and from the air carriers standpoint, which has a lot of uses for the limited funds the FAA has, that they might as well go right to the 600 air carrier airports only.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BASS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Bass.
Dr. Parkinson, what do you think about Mr. Ryan's statement that the FAA is requiring the contractor to do less now but the contractor is getting paid more for it? And secondly, did I understand you correctly to say that you are conducting independent tests on the WAAS system? Who are you doing that for?
Dr. PARKINSON. Let me answer the second part first. We at Stanford invented the term ''Wide Area Differential GPS'' about 7 or 8 years ago. I had a series of students who started to implement such a system but only in our local region. FAA picked that up as something that they wanted to expand as sort of a pathfinder. This was not certified software, but was developing the algorithms necessary to get the accuraciesparticularly verticaldown to something that would meet the Category I precision approach capability. I think we've done that quite successfully. That system is now a full-up, not an operational system, but full-up prototype development system and we are working closely with Hughes to take our information and algorithms and pass them to Hughes.
In terms of the contract, I think the allegation is that the scope of the contract has somehow changed. I really am not in a position to comment on that. As an old program manager, I will just give you a comment. When you run into a problem, because of uncertainty, because you've never developed it before, inevitably what you have found is not something that reduces cost. It inevitably expands cost.
A good program manager, when that happens, does two things. First, he prioritizes all those things that he thought he wanted to do in the beginning and reaches an assessment on which are absolutely necessary. And then the second thing, he looks at the absolutely necessary things and asks in the light of the new knowledge we've now accumulated, is there a better, cheaper way to do it.
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I think the FAA has struggled with this problem very valiantly and done a rather heroic job. I appreciate exactly what they're up against. Personally, I would commend them. I wouldn't give them an A, but I'd give them a B or a B-plus. So in terms of the de-scoping, I suspect that there's truth in that, but I think it is a matter of prudence in program management.
Mr. DUNCAN. Do you have a contract with Hughes?
Dr. PARKINSON. No, sir, we don't.
Mr. DUNCAN. When you said you're working closely with Hughes, you're just doing that voluntarily?
Dr. PARKINSON. Absolutely. Let me tell you what we are doing. We have grants from FAA, and it is my intent as the Principal Investigator to ensure that all the knowledge that we're generating on taxpayer dollars is fed in to make this system as robust as possible. So that's what we're doing.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Mr. Ryan, I'm not really clear specifically what you mean when you say that the WAAS program is in a downward spiral. And also, can you tell us a little more specifically what you think needs to be done to obtain real world benefits. You seem to have some doubts that that's going to occur.
Mr. RYAN. Let me go back in history a little bit. Imagine, which you're not, but imagine that you're kind of an outsider to the actual program management of WAAS, and notwithstanding what Phil says about trying to staff with 180 people all the meetings at FAA, I certainly agree with Phil there are lots of meetings. I can call up George's staff and in 24 hours have a briefing on anything that I probably want, and they are very accommodating. The problem is that they have no obligation to act upon any suggestions they may get at that briefing as to changing anything, and usually don't.
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So great discussions that FAA will trot out from time to time about partnership with the industry is that we may be partners in getting briefings, but we're not necessarily partners in them listening to what we have to say and reacting to it. I certainly wouldn't expect them to adopt 100 percent of all our ideas, but there's no obligation on their part to do so.
Now if I can take you back to 1995 when the WAAS contract was awarded to Wilcox in October for $475 million. The key to the chart is that the communications satellite part of the program, as you'll see, we have the ground segment and the space segment were all included together for $475 million. That means that a number of contractors decided in a competitive bid, and George said himself that Wilcox was not the lowest, in a competitive bid that they could do the job for that amount of money. I recognize, having watched these program for many, many years, that I'd be surprised if someone delivered at exactly for that price. But I'm also surprised that it is now going to cost almost twice as much as what was contracted for with Wilcox back in October.
So we move to 1996 and we have a new contract with the Hughes Corporation that is now $181 million more than it was with Wilcox. I won't debate the merits one way or another of those ten or eleven items that we talk about that are relaxed or deleted, I will leave that up to the FAA. But my only point is that we seem to be getting less for $181 million more than we got in the original contract.
Now let's move to April 1997 when in the trade press they were talking about cost-overruns in the WAAS contract that were denied by the FAA. Yet, this morning we were talking about in May 1996, I think it was Congressman Blunt asked did the committee know about cost-overruns or not. Well, I don't know if the committee knew or not, but somebody at FAA must have known. And if someone at FAA knew in 1996 that there was an increase in the cost of the contract, and in April 1997 they were asked and said that there is no cost overrun and there's no problemand that WAAS is on schedule and on time. It leaves in the mind of the observer from the outside who is not just someone who has no vested interest in what he's watching, when you're representing the airlines and you have an interest that's almost $250 million of equipment that needs to be installed on aircraft and the decision rests with how well FAA does with the contract, and you're getting these constant mixed signals about is it delayed, isn't it delayed, can they do Category I, can they not do Category I, is it a cost overrun, is it not a cost overrun, it doesn't give you a good feeling of confidence in FAA leadership that this program is going to produce the desired results.
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So what we suggested in a letter on June 17th to Larry Stotts at the FAA, one of the things he manages is this program, is that we stop after Phase I and we do a re-evaluation of the WAAS program, and at that time we would know about the changes to GPS, signal availability with respect to design constraints such as selective availability, anti-spoofing and jamming, multiple frequency options, and a whole lot of other things that we might know more about at the end of that phase.
All I'm asking FAA to do is not jump to Phase II. I'm asking them to get with the users and honestly consider our opinions and then maybe jointly make a decision to go onto Phase II and Phase III. And if George and FAA can produce Category I approaches down to 200 feet within some reasonable time, then maybe we'll move beyond Phase I. All I'm looking for is some caution in this program because I don't have the confidence in it that others may have.
Mr. DUNCAN. Dr. Donohue is still here with us, and so he's heard everything you've said here just now and I'm sure he's heard it with at least great interest.
Mr. Boyer, what do you think about what Mr. Ryan has just said, particularly about this time-out suggestion?
Mr. BOYER. You know, I think it's an evolving process and that's why I brought up the meetings. I guess we have found the FAA responsive in many cases, and in certain cases the same kind of stonewall that Mr. Ryan and his members find also. The biggest thing is that we will be having ongoing discussions. We've already had discussions on the testbed situation. We keep in very constant communication on the changing parameters. I, like Jack, today heard 200 feet, half mile. You know what? We're dealing with an unknown technology. They told me the Apple II computer I bought was going to solve all my needs as far as spreadsheets are concerned and now I find that I have to have a Pentium with a 233, et cetera.
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But in terms of the robustness of our instrument system, for general aviation, and Mr. Cooksey, I'd ask you, if I can get down to 300 feet and 1 mile, that's good enough for the general aviation community, that is not corporate or commercial air transport. And once again, I want to point to the crux here being there probably will be for those 600 airports a Local Area System that will be needed to serve Category II/III. But for our needs, WAAS is going to be the replacement for those ground-based navigation aids. It also is going to be the basis for the system that Ken Mead and George talked about that we will be able to go with in the future. That's why we're not arguing over the 7.6 meters or the 4 meters, et cetera.
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes, Mr. Cooksey?
Mr. COOKSEY. Could I ask a question of Dr. Parkinson. Do you feel that if this basic infrastructure is put in place, these WAAS enhancement sites on the ground, will that stay state-of-the-art for some period of time and will we only require software upgrades, or primarily software upgrades for the foreseeable future?
Dr. PARKINSON. As I understand it, they are going to be using approximately 30 of those ground stations. The test results that we've used to date have demostrated that although we have been dealing with a more sparse configuration, yet we have produced accuracies that support Dr. Donohue's statements.
But let me just add one other point, to get back to the last question, if I could, sir. There is no question that you can get the 4.1 meters. The question is do you get it 99.99 percent of the time, or 99 percent of the time. That's the issue. And fortunately, with GPS, it has a means of telling you whether you, indeed, can come down to 300 feet or 200 feet. Built into the FAA plates now are variable altitudes depending upon the exact situation. It's no different. But what I'm saying to you is that well over 90 percent of the time they are going to get the 4.1 meters that exists today. Is it going to be 99.99 percent, well, I think we have to wait and watch the technology evolve, but my guess is it will.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Ryan, I believe you had another comment you wanted to make.
Mr. RYAN. No, sir.
Mr. DUNCAN. You didn't, okay.
I had a meeting yesterday morning with Dr. Donohue and I told him something that I thought was accurate at the time, and that is we've heard for so many years about cost-overruns and low ball estimates on the front-end so that programs could get started and then big money is blown later on. The public accepted that for a while and then became very angry about it. And I told Dr. Donohue that I thought we were either in or very close to a new day in which it was going to be a little tougher time period for governmental agencies and they could no longer just let those kinds of things happen as they did in the past. And I still think that, although I will tell you that I began to wonder last night when the majority of the Congress voted to give the IRS a $650 million increase at the very time that most of the Members of Congress are saying they want to do away with the IRS. So possibly I was wrong in what I told Dr. Donohue yesterday morning.
This has been a very interesting panel.
I believe Mr. Lipinski has some comments or questions at this time.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't have any further questions at this time. I just want to say that as I mentioned earlier about the previous panel, I can say the same thing about this panel, they are enormously knowledgeable, intelligent people.
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I share Mr. Ryan's cautiousness about the potential expense of this program. I personally believe that this program is probably going to wind up costing us twice as much as anybody says it's going to cost us at the present time. At the same time, however, I think it is definitely the future. I think it is something that we have to make as robust as possible, as I believe Professor Parkinson said. I also believe that, as he said, it should be an American program.
I just hope that all the people that have testified here today, and the Members of Congress who are interested and involved in this program, and anybody else that's interested in it will stay on top of it, continue to monitor it so that we can bring it in as inexpensively as possible. I think that Dr. Donohue is a superb individual to ride herd over this project for the FAA. By the same token, one man is not going to be able to make it as robust as everyone wants it to be, and one man is not going to be able to see to it that the costs are as small as possible.
So I say to everyone who has an interest or an involvement in this program that we have to stay on top of it and continue to monitor it so that America will lead the way, so the world will have this system and will be better off, and so that it costs the American taxpayers as few dollars as possible. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Lipinski.
Gentlemen, thank you very much for being here. You've been most helpful and we appreciate it very much. Thank you.
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The subcommittee hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1:01 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, to reconvene at the call of the chair.]