SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOC47049CC
FAA'S MODERNIZATION PROGRAMS: FOCUSING ON STARS
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.
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
MARCH 5, 1998
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
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCHOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
THOMAS 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
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMERRILL COOK, Utah
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
JOHN 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
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
CORRINE 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
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
ROY BLUNT, Missouri Vice Chairman
THOMAS 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
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCNICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
PETER 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
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
Dillingham, Gerald L., Associate Director, Transportation Issues, Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division, U.S. General Accounting Office, accompanied by Robert Levin, Assistant Director
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Fanfalone, Michael, President, Professional Airways Systems Specialists
Garvey, Jane F., Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration
Mead, Kenneth M., Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation
Ryan, Jack, Vice President, Air Traffic Management, Air Transport Association of America, accompanied by Michael P. McNally, President, National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Wickens, Christopher D., Chair, Panel on Human Factors in Air Traffic Control Automation, National Research Council
PREPARED STATEMENT SUBMITTED BY A MEMBER OF CONGRESS
Lipinski, Hon. William O., of Illinois
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
Dillingham, Gerald L
Garvey, Jane F
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
McNally, Michael P
Mead, Kenneth M
Wickens, Christopher D
SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
Dillingham, Gerald L., Associate Director, Transportation Issues, Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division, U.S. General Accounting Office:
Advanced Automation System Project Funds Expended and Transferable to Restructured Automation Program, chart
Changes in Implementation Milestones for Automation Program, chart
Mead, Kenneth M., Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, graphs:
Year-2000 Target Dates and Cost Estimates
HOST Hardware Units with End-of-Service Lives Prior To Year 2000
STARS Human Factors Issues
Ryan, Jack, Vice President, Air traffic Management, Air Transport Association of America, chart, ATA Recommended Free Flight Phase 1 Sites Early Deployment
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
ADDITIONS TO THE RECORD
Pearman, William W., President, FAA Conference of the Federal Managers Association, statement
FAA Air Traffic Services, Fact Sheet, Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS), February 20, 1998
FAA Air Traffic Services, Fact Sheet, Display System Replacement (DSR), February 20, 1998
Garaufis, Nicholas G., Chief Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, FY 1999 Office of the Secretary of Transportation Budget Submission
FAA'S MODERNIZATION PROGRAMS: FOCUSING ON STARS
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 1998
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Aviation,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
The subcommittee met pursuant to notice at 9:26 a.m., in Room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John Duncan (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. DUNCAN. Because of the markup we just had, I think we have many Members here and we have our lead off witnesses here, and so I think we'll go ahead and start this hearing a little bit early. We'll call the subcommittee to order.
I first want to say good morning and welcome everyone to the subcommittee's hearing today on the status of an effort being put forth by the FAA in its air traffic control modernization program, certainly one of this subcommittee's most important subjects and, as such, is very important to everyone throughout the nation.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This is our second hearing this session and our first in a series of hearings in the coming weeks. I think we have at least one hearing a week for the next couple of months dealing with the reauthorization of the programs administered by the FAA and various other matters.
This morning we would like to closely review what too often appears as cost overruns and delays in some of these major and sometimes very costly programs, and how we can improve in managing these programs and controlling these costs.
In 1983, the FAA announced plans to modernize our air traffic system which is made up of a nationwide network of radars, computers and communication systems. I know that these systems are very complicated and very technical, but it is becoming a serious, it has the potential of becoming a very serious safety problem and increasingly difficult for our air traffic controllers to work with equipment that was designed in the 1950's and 1960's. However, as we have noted several times, this subcommittee was primarily responsible in the past year for giving the FAA one of its biggest increases in funding ever. And I hope that we can soon stop reading and hearing about equipment that came around in the 1950's and 1960's, and that's what this modernization effort and this hearing is primarily about today.
I know that many Members of the panel are familiar with this because we've had hearings in the past on the troubles experienced in, and the cost overruns associated with the Advanced Automation System, or the AAS program as it is sometimes called. This program was originally awarded to IBM in 1988 in what was originally estimated to cost $2.5 billion over 5 years to complete. But the cost estimates quickly changed and skyrocketed to $7.6 billion.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And so often we hear that, in some major program of the federal Government, we got lowball estimates on the front-end and then the costs explode. The General Accounting Office estimates that we lost the taxpayers at least $1.5 billion in this program. However, when you include associated costs, it probably is conservatively, well over $2 billion, when you consider employee salaries and other related costs.
My point is that we simply cannot afford to let these kinds of problems continue or happen in the future and I am speaking both from a safety and from a fiscal standpoint. I feel confident that Administrator Garvey is seriously addressing the problems associated with these programs. And we look forward to hearing from her today, and I appreciate the good work that I think she has already done in a relatively short time at the FAA.
We certainly have to look at why the FAA is continuously plagued with cost overruns and delays, and I know that's of concern to all of our witnesses here. And I know, too, that the taxpayers deserve nothing less than that we look into these matters very, very closely.
The subcommittee looks forward to hearing from our witnesses today on the status of several programs, including the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, the STARS program, the Display System Replacement, or DSR program, the HOST Computer Replacement program, and the Year-2000 computer problem, for which cost estimates seem to be escalating dramatically and which is of some fascination to me.
I'm pleased that we have a very distinguished group of witnesses with us this morning, and we look forward to hearing their insights on all of these matters. I now recognize the very distinguished ranking member of the subcommittee, Mr. Lipinski.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I have a statement for the record that I'd like to have included if there are no objections. And I feel that you've covered everything extremely well in your opening statement, so I yield back the balance of my time.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lipinski follows:]
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. Does any other Member wish to make an opening statement before the witnesses proceed? And other opening statements? If any Member wishes, they can put opening statements in the record.
All right, since there are no more opening statements, we will hear first from panel number one, which is Mr. Gerald L. Dillingham, who has been with us many times. He's the Associate Director for Transportation Issues of the General Accounting Office and he is accompanied by Mr. Robert Levin who is Assistant Director for Transportation Issues with the GAO.
We're honored to have Ms. Jane Garvey, the Administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration.
And, also another witness who has been with this subcommitteeperhaps holds the record for being with this subcommittee, I'm not sure. But he's been here many, many times, Mr. Kenneth M. Mead who is Inspector General for the Department of Transportation. And Mr. Mead is accompanied by Ms. Alexis Stefani, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Aviation of the Department of Transportation.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We're pleased to have all of you here with us. And we'll proceed with your testimony, and I believe that we're supposed to go first to Mr. Dillingham who I believe is going to provide us some history and background, and that we're supposed to proceed with you first, Mr. Dillingham. You may proceed, and then we'll go Administrator Garvey and then Mr. Mead.
TESTIMONY OF GERALD L. DILLINGHAM, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, TRANSPORTATION ISSUES, RESOURCES, COMMUNITY, AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIVISION, U.S. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, ACCOMPANIED BY ROBERT LEVIN, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR; JANE F. GARVEY, ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION; KENNETH M. MEAD, INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Mr. DILLINGHAM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you said in your opening statement, much of the testimony this morning will be about two particular systems that FAA is developing, the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, or STARS, and the Display System Replacement, or DSR. These systems provide modern work stations and supporting computers that process radar and flight data for air controller's use. They will be replacing existing equipment that is reaching the end of its useful life.
Today, we hope it's true that a picture is worth a thousand words. With your permission, we have a very short picture story before summarizing our written statement.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Dillingham, let me stop. Mr. Hammerschmidt, I was just going to say that I want to welcome back a man who has served for, I think, 26 years on this committee and was the ranking Republican and was responsible for me coming on this committee and I think one of the finest men whoever served in this Congress, Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt from the great State of Arkansas.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Glad to have you back.
Thank you very much, Mr. Dillingham. Sorry to interrupt you, but, go ahead with the program.
Mr. DILLINGHAM. The first picture we'll see will show you what the STARS workstation will look like, if we can make the technology work.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Which technology are you talking about there?
Mr. DILLINGHAM. That computer technology over there, Mr. Lipinski.
I think the Members have a color hard copy of the slide that we're going to show.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, let me, while we have a moment, I understand
Mr. LAHOOD. Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, now we know how these air traffic controllers feel when everything goes black on their screen.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. DUNCAN. All right, Mr. LaHood.
I understand that Mr. Levin is moving to another section of the GAO, and that his contributions to Transportation Issues and to this committee and subcommittee have been very numerous over the years. Mr. Levin, we thank you very much for your good work and wish well in your new assignment.
Mr. LEVIN. Thank you very much.
Ms. DANNER. Mr. Chairman, it's well known that it's un-American to watch a film without popcorn, and since there's no popcorn, obviously the film is not going to work.
Mr. DILLINGHAM. Something's happening over there, Ms. Danner, I hope it's coming up.
The intent of this film is to try and make clear some of the acronyms that you will hear as well as show you the location of some of the equipment that we're going to be talking about, and how it's used.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Again, that first picture will show you what the STARS workstations will look like. The controllers are looking at monitors that display the position and identification of aircraft in flight. STARS equipment will be installed in Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities, or TRACON facilities, around the country.
The second picture shows a future TRACON control room. The DSR equipment is somewhat similar but the typical control room at a TRACON is much smaller than en route centers in which the DSR equipment will be installed.
Now I'd like to show where the STARS and DSR equipment fits into the different FAA air traffic control facilities on a simulated trip between Chicago's Midway Airport to Knoxville's McGee-Tyson Airport. First the flight is cleared for takeoff by the tower at Midway Airport. Tower controllers handle flight-related activities on the ground and within about a 5-mile radius of the airport.
Tower automation, which we won't be talking about much today, was a part of the original AAS program, but has since been canceled.
Once the aircraft clears the 5-mile radius, it's taken over by controllers in the TRACON facility in Elgin, Illinois, until it's about 40 miles out from the airport. This is the type of facility where the STARS equipment will be installed for use by the controllers. There are about 180 TRACON facilities within the system.
At about 40 miles from Midway, the aircraft is taken over by controllers in the en route facility in Aurora, Illinois. The en route facilities are where the DSR equipment will be used by the controllers. These facilities also house the HOST computer, about which you will hear more during the hearing.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
After leaving the Aurora airspace, the en route centers in Indianapolis and Hampton, Georgia, near Atlanta, will guide the aircraft as it moves through Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. There are about 20 en route facilities within the national system.
When the aircraft enters the airspace within 40 miles of Knoxville, it's taken over by the controllers in the TRACON facility in Knoxville. And eventually the tower controller in Knoxville will clear the aircraft for landing.
That gives you a sort of pictorial of how all this equipment fits into the national system and the various facilities in which it will be a part of.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the subcommittee, with your permission, I'd like to take a few minutes to give a brief overview of where we've come from, where we are currently, and a little about the future of modernizing the nation's air traffic control system.
In the late 1970's, two key factors were evident. First, the existing ATC system was a blend of several generations of automated and manual equipment, much of it labor-intensive and obsolete. And, second, forecasts were being made about increased future demands for air travel brought on by recent airline deregulation.
Accordingly, in the early 1980's, FAA initiated its plan to modernize, automate, and consolidate the existing ATC system. The modernization program was described as a 10 year, $12 billion undertaking. The centerpiece of that program was the Advanced Automation System, AAS.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
AAS was to be a five-part acquisition of modern workstations and computers that process radar and flight data for controller's use in the towers, TRACONs and en route facilities. It was estimated to cost $2.5 billion with a completion date of 1996.
During the ensuing years, GAO reported to the Congress on the progress and status of the modernization program. Our messages were generally the same: The projects were over budget, and behind schedule.
In 1994, because of the severe cost, schedule, and technical problems, FAA restructured the modernization program, including AAS. At that point, the modernization program was estimated to cost around $36 billion with no finite end-date. The estimated cost of AAS had risen by about $5 billion. Some of its key components were as much as 8 years behind schedule.
As part of the restructuring, FAA canceled some parts of AAS, scaled back others, and ordered the development of less-costly alternatives. Two parts of AAS that were included in the restructuring were the new workstations for air traffic controllers in the en route and TRACON facilities, again, the DSR and STARS program.
FAA has had mixed results in achieving its cost and schedule goals for these two programs. The DSR is currently within budget and on schedule, but before it was scaled back, FAA had expended 10 years on development and $1 billion. And of that $1 billion investment, less than one-half of it was transferable to the new DSR program.
Regarding the STARS program, it will likely have schedule delays of at least 6 months, largely because of software development problems and the resolution of human factors problems. There were also some pretty significant unanticipated occurrences that resulted from the delays and cancellations associated with AAS.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
One of these occurrences that was associated with delays in filling the new systems was the need to add four interim systems, costing over a half a billion dollars to sustain and enhance the existing system.
In another case, one of the canceled AAS segments would have addressed hardware problems that are now emerging with the mainframe computers in the en route facilities, referred to as the HOST.
The HOST is also the piece of equipment that is central to FAA solving its Year-2000 problem. Because the software is so old, there are serious questions as to whether it can be made Y2K compliant. If it cannot be fixed, the Agency may have to replace them. The last time these computers were replaced, it took 3 years. We only have about 21 months until the year 2000. Additionally, if these computers are replaced, it may require the use of funds that were planned for other modernization efforts and thereby delay those projects.
With regard to the future, we believe that some important lessons have been learned from the AAS program, including the usefulness of the building block approach, or ''build a little, test a little,'' rather than the big bang approach that was associated with AAS.
Another lesson was the importance of significant user input, and the necessity to have a disciplined acquisition process. And most importantly, the recognition of the role of organizational culture in acquisitions.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, we would be remiss if we didn't point out that there is certainly more that needs to be done. We have sought to identify some of the root causes of FAA's acquisition problems. Included in those root causes was the lack of a mature software acquisition process and unreliable cost information.
Software is one of the most expensive and complex components of today's computer systems. It is also the component that is the source of most system development problems. We found that FAA's process for acquiring software were ad hoc, sometimes chaotic, and not repeatable across projects. And without reliable cost information, the likelihood of inaccurate project cost estimates is increased, not only when a project is initiated, but throughout its life cycle. We see an example of this with the WAAS program that has recently shown a cost-growth of over a half a billion dollars.
We have made recommendations to FAA in these areas, and FAA has begun to implement many of those recommendations. GAO continues to list ATC modernization as a high-risk program. This designation serves to alert Agency management that GAO will make special efforts to monitor the program and provide our results to the Congress.
Mr. Chairman, we believe that we are at the beginning of a new period in the history of modernization, with a new and more flexible acquisition system, and new Administrator with a new approach that includes trying to gain consensus and buy-in among all stakeholders as to what is needed and when is needed to for modernizing the system.
In the final analysis, Mr. Chairman, we are guardedly optimistic about the future. There's a sort of new beginning here, but the problems have been a longtime in development and they will not disappear overnight. Modernization will still require the sustained attention of FAA management and the committees of Congress to realize its potential.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Dillingham. And that was very, very informative, and Mr. Lipinski and I appreciate your taking the plane safely from Midway to McGee-Tyson. Thank you for being with us, and we'll have some questions shortly.
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Good morning Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee. I'm very pleased to be here this morning, and to have an opportunity to talk with this Committee about one the Agency's top priorities and the modernization of the National Airspace System.
It clearly, as you all have suggested, is one of the greatest challenges that this Agency faces. It demands constant vigilance, realistic assessment, and it demands the people with the right kind of skills in both the public and private sectors to make it happen.
Let me say at the outset that this is a remarkable system. We serve over a half-billion people every year. The aviation industry contributes $600 billion to the economy. And yet we know that these staggering numbers are going to grow even bigger and we simply must be prepared.
Modernizing the system requires us to do three things. First of all, we must replace and maintain the NAS infrastructure. Secondly, we must develop and deploy the automation tools to give us improvements in efficiency and capability. And, third, we have to develop new technology that will help us with the transition to satellite-based navigation.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Our immediate focus is on the critical need to replace the infrastructure, the aging equipment in the air traffic control facilities. Last year, for example, we installed 1,500 pieces of equipment designed to maintain or upgrade the system.
Two other critical infrastructure programs that are a top priority for the Agency are the Display System Replacement, DSR, and the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, STARS. These two systems in conjunction with the HOST replacement, will replace the computer processing and display equipment used by air traffic controllers throughout the country. These systems really are the platforms to bring the more advanced automation tools into the NAS, and it's essential that we stay the course with both of these systems.
In my early visits on the Hill last fall, I made a commitment to this committee to reach out to the aviation community so that we could fully understand how we could address community needs and priorities. It's clear that an air traffic control system cannot be built in isolation. Aircraft operators and the FAA must have complimentary capabilities or no benefits will be realized. I've met and talked with a number of people both inside and outside the Agency, and the message is the same: If we don't act now, the system is headed for gridlock.
To ensure that we get the full participation that we need, last fall I asked key members, key players, from the industry, from the unions, from the FAA, to form a task force to assess the current modernization program. And let me say that an enormous amount of work has been done. The NAS architecture, which many of you are familiar with, is an impressive piece of work, and it's the result of work from both industry and Government alike.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I asked the task force to focus on two things. First to thoroughly review the NAS architecture, that is, what the system will look like. And second, to examine how and when we should implement the new architecture.
Everyone agrees on what the system should look like, and I'm pleased to report that there is growing consensus among the aviation community on how and when to get there. The task force has proposed that we incrementally introduce certain automation and decision making tools now being tested in certain parts of the country. The incremental approach would bring user benefits to the system sooner and it would modernize the NAS gradually in a building block fashion.
Examples of the type of capabilities we could incrementally introduce into the system include decision support tools for conflict probe, aircraft arrival sequencing, and collaborative decision making. Conflict probe and aircraft sequencing tools enable controllers to improve traffic flow and reduce system delays. Collaborative decision making permits the FAA and airlines' dispatch centers to share information to improve air traffic management on a system-wide basis. These capabilities allow us to safely increase the capacity and provide significant user benefits. I believe everyone can benefit from the building block approach.
Users get the benefits sooner rather later. The aviation community has repeatedly emphasized to us that even the smallest increase in efficiency translates into significant cost savings. A preliminary estimate completed by a major airline recently showed that collaborative decision making saved the airline $1 million in rerouting and related costs on a single bad weather day at a large hub airport.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The FAA benefits by getting an early look at the system's performance and evaluating whether the benefits are as expected. Based on what we learn, the system can be modified to maximize the benefits.
I support this approach. I've asked the RTCA to evaluate the technical merits of the proposal and they've reported to me that this proposal is a step in the right direction. I've also asked members of my management team to review the potential costs and benefits associated with the proposal and I'll be reviewing the results in the next week.
Modernization of the NAS is a significant challenge for the FAA; it's a significant challenge for the aviation community. Building the NAS for the new century demands cooperation, it demands consensus and commitment that can only result from an honest and open discussion.
I'm very grateful to members of the taskforce. I'm very grateful to the RTCA for their willingness and support over the past few months.
In the past, Mr. Chairman, this committee has supported the Agency extensively in its effort toward modernization reform and I look forward to working with you on this very important issue.
I just want to end by just adding one personal note, and that is yesterday, two Members of this committee asked me what I hoped to get out of this hearing today, and what message I hoped to be able to convey. And there are two very important messages. One is that there is a growing consensus in the aviation community to work with us, to move ahead on a plan that is both achievable and doable. And second, a very strong personal commitment that I feel both to the employees of the FAA, the unions, to make sure that we do it in a way that works, that we do it in a way that makes sense from the controllers and from PASS's perspective, as well. I pledge to you my commitment, and I look forward to working with you on modernization and many other important issues. Thank you.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, Thank you very much, Ms. Garvey. And we'll go now to Mr. Kenneth Mead. Mr. Mead.
Mr. MEAD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First I'd like to commend Administrator Garvey's pro-active and engaged role in this area since she's come to office. I think as a result, the committee should w/respect to FAA acquisitions, see a more complete description of risks, realism in schedules, clarity in benefits and costs, and certainly a greater focus on priorities.
I'd like to touch on four high priority efforts: The Year-2000 computer problem; The Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, also known as STARS; the HOST replacement which is used to control high altitude air traffic; and the Wide Area Augmentation System, which deals with satellites.
There's a package of four slides in your package that address these matters.
First, Year-2000. This is a top priority. As of late February, FAA had completed assessments of all of its 430 mission critical systems. Of the 209 supporting air traffic, 125 had been assessed as Year-2000 compliant. That means that 84 remain; these must be fixed. Completion of the assessment phase was 7 months late.
I can assure you FAA is now proceeding with a sense of urgency. They have to make the fixes and test those fixes to make sure they work. The target date for doing this is November 1999. Given FAA's track record, November 1999 is cutting it too close. In our opinion, that date needs to be accelerated to June 1999 or sooner.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Second, STARS. STARS, of course, will replace the displays and computers of the terminal facilities. A December 1998 date for STARS to be operational in Boston is likely to slip, but with strong management, we don't think it needs to slip by more than a few months. Since October, which is rather late in the STARS acquisition, FAA has been working closely with controllers and maintenance technicians to resolve human factor issues.
The controller evaluations identified 98 human factor issues. The maintenance evaluations identified 106. Potential solutions have been identified for about 87 of the 98 controller issues, as have solutions for the 106 maintenance issues.
Once the solutions have been identified, though, Mr. Chairman, they must be analyzed to determine the impact on the program and schedule. This has not been done yet.
The toughest decision will be determining when enough is enough. Until exit criteria are established on which solutions are to be implemented and when to implement them, FAA will have difficulty resolving these human factor issue, and delays will be the likely result.
The important lesson learned from STARS is that we need to avoid 11th hour retrofits. The need for an effective human factors process is going to become increasingly critical as we move forward to more collaborative decision making with programs such as so-called Free Flight.
Third, HOST replacement. The HOST program will replace the mainframe computers at the en-route centers, the faclilites that control, the high altitude air traffic. These are two basic problems with HOST: Year-2000 and the basic support needed for the computer.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Thousands of lines of microcode must be reviewed to see if the HOST is Year-2000 compliant. When that examination will be completed, though, is uncertain, and that's because FAA is having difficulty finding trained people with the technological knowledge necessary to do the review and repair the microcode. In our opinion, an aggressive effort by FAA, Lockheed-Martin, and IBM, will be necessary to secure that talent.
In addition the Year-2000 problem, FAA has an urgent need to replace the HOST computer system. I have before me what is known as a thermal conduction module. The module, which I'll pass around in a moment, is a key part of the HOST because it contains computer chips. The main shortage of HOST spare parts involves modules like these. These are failing at an increasing rate. In your package, I have the details on what the failure rate is.
These modules, though, are cooled by helium and water. The helium can leak and that can cause the module to heat up and fail. These modules are no longer made, nor is the current HOST computer. There are very few of these left in the world. To illustrate the seriousness of the situation, for one key module, there are 96 of them in use by FAA around the country. And there are only 6 spares left.
There's also a diagram in your package of how this module works and descriptions of the various components in it.
Now, based on prior replacement efforts at the FAA, FAA's ability to replace the HOST hardware at its 20 en-route centers in less than 2 years is highly questionable, in our judgment. I think the FAA needs to proceed immediately to both repair the microcode, make the HOST Year-2000 compliant, and at the same time, secure the necessary funding to sequence the replacement of the HOST computer, and to do so as quickly as possible.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And finally, the WAAS system. That's an acronym for the satellite programwide area augmentation system. It's going to be used to augment the Global Positioning System to provide navigation and approach capabilities to civilian aircraft. The initial WAAS system is supposed to become operational in October 1999.
We think the secretary's recent report does a good job of describing the uncertainties and risks associated with this program. But in light of those uncertainties, we think it's becoming increasingly clear that some type of backup system will be needed for the foreseeable future. The type of backup system selected is going to have a bearing on the costs and schedule for this acquisition.
And finally, I'd like to close by pointing out that each of the four areas we overviewed, plus several I didn't mention, all have scheduled implementation operational dates very close to January 1, 2000. That's an enormous challenge even for the best-managed corporation, especially when the date by which one of those efforts must be satisfactorily completed is fixed and will not slip. That, of course, is the Year-2000 computer issue.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. I'm going to yield my time on this round to Mr. Ewing.
Mr. EWING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you to members of the panel.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
My office, I thinkI do want to say that I'm very pleased to see you making progress. I think it's very important, and certainly we have been behind in getting ourselves up to speed.
But in a similar issue I can't help but bring up today, Ms. Garvey, the problem that I thought arose when the leak that came out of your Agency concerning AirTran at the end of, or the beginning of this year. I'm not sure of the exact date. I guess January 11 was that date. Which troubled me very much and then I was more troubled by the lack of response that I got from your Agency.
We called and asked what your response was going to be to this article in the newspaper which caused a great deal of fear in the traveling public as well as economic impact on AirTran. I think that you can't be responsible for everything that happens, but when it is attributed to a leak in your Agency, somebody who is speaking off the record, there is a problem.
We were told that a report would be out in 6 weeks. I wrote a letter then, 2 days later. I was a month getting an answer from you, and then that answer didn't tell me anything. And then when finally this was responded to, I read it in the newspaper just like I did originally. And I guess I just wonder what you believe your Agency's responsibility is, number one, to the traveling public, number one, to the airlines industry is, and then to Members of Congress, might be in responding to these types of certainly unfortunate newspaper articles because it was proven in your report that there wasn't a problem with the airline. Could you respond to that?
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. GARVEY. First of all, Congressman, let me apologize for your not receiving a timely response. You, obviously, as well as every other Member of Congress deserve that, and I certainly apologize for that and offer my staff to sit down with your staff, if that's appropriate at this point, to talk about that in a little more detail. Let me start there.
Second, the issue of leaks is one that is of great concern. It's a very large Agency and certainly I'm not happy when I read things in the paper for the first time. I share that concern. And I'm not sure, always, how to address that issue. We're certainly trying to address it, but I'm not sure we're ever going to be fully successful in that.
I do think that the final report that came out, came out at the end of last week, we've begun to brief the press and so forth, went very well. And I think, for the most part, at least the reports that I saw in the paper, were very positive, and I think show the Agency had worked closely, by the way, with the IG to assess the issues, and came out, I think, with a good report.
So, I apologize for not responding more quickly to you, and we'll follow up with our staff on that.
Mr. EWING. Well, your apology, of course, is accepted. And it really isn't an apology that I'm seeking.
Ms. GARVEY. I understand.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EWING. I know that people who said to me, I'm not going to fly AirTran. They have every right to be fearful, and I just don't think that saying, well, in 6 weeks we'll answer it. I think we have to have a better turn around.
I know that you can't make a report up, but there has to be someway to give some kind of inclination as to the safety. People are frightened when they read those types of stories, particularly about an airline that has merged with ValuJet and everybody wonders, well, what's going on. And in some places, the peoplethey weren't flying the planeAirTran does go into my district, flies into my districtweren't even the kinds of planes that ValuJet had. But no one knew that.
I think it's an information short circuit and I would hope that your Agency will look at how you can respond to those things that are sensitive to the public.
Ms. GARVEY. Just to mention one change that you will see in the report, and a new approach that we're taking, which I think is a very good one, which is even the issues that were raised that were put to bed, we've included in the report with a very full response so that we're not leaving something that may have circulated in the press or circulated in the community 2 or 3 weeks before, without a response. So even the comments that we've dismissed, if you will, or resolved, are fully explained in the report. And I think, frankly, in my view, that's a step forward. It's full disclosure, full discussion and I think provides a much more comprehensive and realistic picture.
Mr. EWING. I think that is we can do on a timely basis when there's an incident like this, then we'll be making great progress.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you.
Mr. EWING. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Ewing. Mr. Lipinski asked that I give his time to Mr. Boswell.
Mr. BOSWELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate that you're having this session for us. The public is very concerned about some of the things that my colleague just brought out, and other things.
I'm curious about the people that work the equipment. How do they feel? We're going to hear from them in a little bit, but you obviously have to work very closely with those folks, the ones that have to sit in there for those several hours a day, and control and direct and, at times, in some of these trouble areas, I would guess it's pretty intense. How do they feel about this equipment, and is there training going on? Give us some reaction there.
Ms. GARVEY. Congressman, I think, and obviously I don't want to speak for either one of the unions, but I think obviously they have some concerns about the equipment that we have. Both Mr. Fanfalone and Mr. McNally very generously served on our modernization task force, and their participation in that was extraordinarily helpful.
Mr. Fanfalone raised issues of training and ways that we might approach some new training that we might provide the employees who will be working on the new equipment, and that's clearly an issue that we're going to be addressing and working with him very closely on.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. McNally raised issues about some of the air traffic control systems that are in place, and, again, I think this is giving us an opportunity not only to look at the issues, but to address them.
I think the work that we're doing in the human factors area, both for PASS and for NATCA, is extraordinarily helpful. And my hope is that what we're doing with STARS will be a prototype, will be a model for all of the other equipment to follow. It is critical that we've got to do it in partnership. They're the folks that are operating the equipment, they're the people that are maintaining it and we can learn a lot from listening to those concerns and moving ahead to address them.
Mr. BOSWELL. I appreciate your saying this. I want you to know I haven't talked to those individuals myself, I have not. But I've been on the other ends of things of this nature to some degree, and it seems to me as dependant as we are on this system, and getting more so every day, that you want to have those folks that work the equipment and maintain equipment to be right there in the decisionmaking process to be sure that we spend all this money and it goes out there and that it works and it dependable. And we don't have to turn around to jump through the hoops to scramble say, well, we should've done this. I'm glad you're doing what you say you're doing, and I trust that you are, because it will alleviate a lot of problems. I hope that you will continue to do that and I'm sure you will.
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you.
Mr. BOSWELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Boswell. Dr. Ehlers.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, no questions but a couple of comments which the panel may wish to respond to.
First of all, the new Inspector General, welcome aboard. I don't want to say anything untoward about your predecessor, but you're a breath of fresh air. I find your constructive comments very helpful. As you know, it's very easy to throw grenades and bombs and destroy things, but it's much more helpful to have constructive comments as you did in your report and I appreciate that.
Mr. MEAD. Thank you.
Mr. EHLERS. To the Administrator, and to the panel in general, I have a background in computers, as some of you may know, although I don't consider myself a computer expert, but I've used them virtually since they were invented which dates me. I've written programs for them, not the monstrous number of code lines of code that you have in your programs, but I've written fairly complex programs. I would caution all of you. I think the time lines you have are going to be very difficult to meet. It has to be the highest priority in the Department at this point to pull this together in view of the Year-2000 problem but also in view of the outdated programs that you have. And the reason I say I think it's the highest priority is the last thing you want is a midair collision or everything going blank on January 1, 2000, which I don't regard as a catastrophe, but it certainly would be a bad message to send to the public. But there's
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
It's a very difficult and very complex set of interacting programs that you're dealing with. It's going to take a lot of work. And go into this with your eyes open, recognizing how difficult it's going to be and you really have to put a maximum amount of effort into to ensure those programs are ready and that the systems are upgraded. So just a word of caution from someone who has been there and who's experience the slippage that can take place because these systems are incredibly complex and difficult to debug and particularly difficult to make operational, and especially when you start getting to things like free flight, which you could destroy this system and the public's confidence if you have a midair collision during the first few months of that operation.
So, just a word of caution, and I wish you the best in your efforts.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right, thank you very much. We're going to go next to Mrs. Danner.
Ms. DANNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Jane, I'm going to follow up on what Leonard said. I think you had not really been in the control tower but of course being a pilot, you had conversations with the control tower from the air. I'm hoping and I know we're going to hear from the unions later, although I have another committee meeting right now, but I wanted to wait and visit with you.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I hope that somehow or other there is a way to be sure that the members of the union who are working in these control towers, their suggestions are making up to a point where they're taken seriously. I visited a control tower just last week, one several months ago, and very honestly, some suggestions that have been made to me seem to make a lot of sense. And I have a feeling that some of the suggestions that they have made have not made it up to the place where they should so they would preclude problems from, for example, construction of some new terminal.
As a matter of fact, we're getting a new one in Kansas City. Not a terminal but a new facility for our air traffic controllers. And some suggestions they've made apparently haven't made it up to the right level because, it is their understanding, that the same mistakes that we're made in their tower in Kansas City are now being made in other towers that are being constructed despite the fact that they have indicated that these are the problems and there is a way to fix them. And everyone has ignored their suggestions.
And I recognize relatively small pre-office complex as a Member of Congress how difficult it is to keep track of something as large as FAA, but I would really like to know that someone would listen to the people who are hands-on. I have a real fear that what is happening is that people aren't listening to the people who are working but talking instead, perhaps, in my summation and conjecture is, maybe they're dealing with consultants who are saying, this is the way you should do it, when indeed, they should be talking with the people who are doing it.
And I think that my people in Kansas City had some excellent suggestions. That's why I have encouraged you to come out and visit them, and I hope that you will, so that you can see not only the construction of this new tower, the demolition, I think, of the old tower is important as well, but that you can hear from people who actually are hands-on what their problems are, and they're significant. And I will tell you that once one goes into these towers and sees some of the problems, it makes one a little sensitive about commuting every week.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you, Congresswoman. We will definitely follow up on that. I will mention that the people who are working on the human factors issue are, exactly as you've suggested, they are the air traffic controllers, the maintenance people, who have those responsibilities, who are closest to the issue and can give us, I think, the best suggestions. But we'll follow up with Mr. McNally specifically on the Kansas City issue. Thank you.
Mr. MEAD. I'd like to reinforce that, based on our work reviewing union time dedicated to various functions, we found that only 12 percent of official duty hours granted to controllers is going to the support activities in which controllers and maintenance technicians are involved in human factors, issues and explaining what their concerns are. Also, it's interesting to note that at the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, you have 22 monitors for 9 systems at 6 controller stations. That's a lot of equipment. And since people there are the ones that have to live with that, I think your words of advice that we should listen to the controllers of those systems, are well taken.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. Mr. LaHood.
Mr. LAHOOD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for holding this hearing. I think it is very, very important.
And Administrator Garvey, I gave your staff a note about something that's pending in my district. If you could look into it, I'd really appreciate it. I don't want to bring it up here, but at least I'd give you the benefit of looking into it for me, and I'd appreciate that.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I had a meeting recently with theI'm sure Mr. Lipinski, is he still, is Mr. Lipinski still here? Oh, yes, I'm sure he doesn't want me to bring this up, but I'm going to anyway.
He's a friend of mine and I'm sure he'll understand. I just had a meeting
Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Chairman, cut him off.
Mr. LAHOOD. I had a meeting recently with the secretary of transportation in Illinois, and he was out here a week or so ago to talk about the third airport and he's very frustrated, as I think the Governor is, aboutI guess the term is a lack of interest on your part or the part of maybe the Secretary of Transportation, but he had specifically mentioned that he had been trying to visit with you about this.
And I don't really want to put you on the spot, but I wonder what your feelings are about the notion that there should be a third airport in the Chicago metropolitan area, and if you'veand I would add, I think you've really hit the ground running. I think you had a hard test following David Hinson who did an extraordinary job, and really I think you've done a marvelous job in following up on many of the things that he was working on. But I just wondered
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I'd like to report back to my friend Kirk Brown that at least I raised this issue with you. And if you want to comment on it, you can. And if you would rather, defer. But remember that Mr. Lipinski is on the other side of this.
Ms. GARVEY. Well, this isn't fun.
Congressman, let me say, I know Mr. Brown, I worked with him for a number of years on the surface side, and we've worked together on a number of issues. One of the points that he and I have talked about, and I would guess that there's some point of difference here, we talked about the need really to have a regional consensus for something as important as a third airport, and I know it's a serious issue, and a tough issue for people in the State. And I guess we're not fully convinced yet that there is that kind of regional consensus.
Mr. Brown has raised some issues about the forecasts. I think they're fair questions that he raised and we owe him an explanation, I think, on that, on how we've come to our conclusions, which we will do. And I've promised him that we'll follow up on the forecast questions that he's raised with us.
But the issue of regional consensus is one that, I guess, we'd like to see bit more evidence of, if you will. But I'll speak with him this afternoon and I'll tell him that you did raise it.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LAHOOD. Very good. I think he would like to meet with you about this. That's kind of the feeling that I had, and really hear from you directly.
Could you tell those of us who represent Illinois and certainly people who fly in one of the busiest airports, when will the equipment be installed at the Aurora Center and what is the time table for all of that?
Ms. GARVEY. Congressman, if I could get back to you, officially on that. I don't have the dates immediately at hand, but I will do that. Thank you.
Mr. DILLINGHAM. Congressman LaHood, I think we have that information available.
Mr. LEVIN. Chicago is fairly soon in the waterfall, so to speak. Installation has already started, according to this schedule, and the equipment should be commissioned in about 11 months, February 1999.
Mr. LAHOOD. So when will the controllers actually be utilizing it?
Mr. LEVIN. They'll start to work with it and get trained on it later this year, but it should be fully operating by February 1999.
Mr. LAHOOD. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Again, thank you very much for being here.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. LaHood. Ms. Johnson.
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for the hearing.
I have submitted some questions and I will await the reply. I think some of our concerns in Dallas are the same as other places. If the Midwest can't get together on the airport, we will take all new airports in my district. I have four of them, and one of them needs to be enhanced greatly.
I'm hoping that we will have some, as prompt as possible, responses to many of the concerns that have been expressed and I feel that you, as has been called to your attention, I think you're working on it and I appreciate it. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Ms. Johnson. Dr. Cooksey.
Mr. COOKSEY. No questions, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Mrs. Millender-McDonald.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I too want to add my thank-you for a very timely hearing this morning. Certainly we are all concerned about the modernization of the air traffic controller system, and certainly feel that you are in front of this particular issue.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Let me first thank you for the quick response to the hearing on the sexual harassment of the female air traffic controllers and your report. It was very thorough. I would like to, perhaps, have a follow up meeting with you on some issues pertaining to that, but we really do thank you for your quick response and your continuous monitoring of the situation.
I would like to also applaud you on Phase I and Phase II of this modernization contact because I was extremely concerned about the computers that the air traffic controllers do have. It is important that we have safest of equipment for them to operate in the air.
I'm also pleased that your response to issues that we have heard about, read about, pertaining to the safety of the air, and safety as related to the air traffic controllers, and how you have reiterated even some of those concerns that may have been passed, but you reiterated that in present and recent reports. And we thank you for that.
My concern, though, is Phase IV and V, and I hate to see anything that is scaled back. Perhaps you can expound on that a little bit, as to what can we look for in terms of moving expeditiously or bringing back Phase V in that it has been scaled back tremendously in trying to provide the new software and combine ISS and TAAS functions in a single facility, along with Phase IV. If you can expound on those two.
Ms. GARVEY. Congresswoman, I want to be sure I understand the question. Are you talking about Phase III of WAAS? Is that
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Phase IV and V of AAS.
Ms. GARVEY. I'm wonderingwe're not sure we understand exactly
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. In reading the information that the chairman has given me, and in looking at this, I'm looking at page 2. Do you have his report?
Ms. GARVEY. No, I'm sorry I don't, Congresswoman.
Mr. MEAD. What you may be referring to when you say AAS, is a program that was supposed to comprehensively modernize all the different components of the air traffic control system. This program had serious, highly consequential and fatal problems and was terminated, in effect, several years ago. That program was restructured and focused on towers, terminals, and the en-route centers.
And the STARS system, which we were talking about earlier, that is for the terminal areas, which extend from about 60 miles out to about 5 miles from the airport. There were many human factor problems the controllers raised fairly late in the acquisition process which indicated that they needed to have a human factors process, built into the acquisition so there weren't these 11th-hour problems.
FAA is now sorting through those. There's likely to be slippage in meeting the current first date for operation of the STARS system in December 1998. It's probably going to slip by several months at least, unless we're very vigilant and manage very tightly.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Slipping due to what? Financial circumstances?
Mr. MEAD. Well, I think it's a combination of factors. One was the software development and the testing that was required. A more pressing matter is the human factors issue. Because these were identified at the 11th hour, retrofitting and reworking must be done.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Okay. Fine Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you. Mr. Fox.
Mr. FOX. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for holding these hearings. And thank you Administrator Garvey for the progress you've made and your leadership. I just wanted to ask you a couple things, if I may.
Among the issues of concern that I understand the GAO continues to have with the FAA is the lack of agreement on the importance of the chief information officer. As I understand it, the GAO feels that the FAA should elevate the chief information officer to a higher position of authority consistent with what is required at the Department level under the Clinger-Cohen Act.
This would likely be immediately below the Administrator so as to provide a higher profile in such an important and massive undertaking as the air traffic control modernization. Obviously, since you recognize the importance of the elevated status in the Year-2000 matter, would it be logical for the FAA to have a chief information officer serving immediately under you to manage the modernization effort with sufficient clout to make sure the progress continues at a steady pace? Obviously Congress felt this was important at the Department level. Would you comment on that?
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you very much, Congressman. And we have talked extensively with GAO about this issue. You're right in suggesting that our first step was to separate out the Y2K part of the operation. We felt that was such a serious issue and there was so much that the chief information officer was responsible for, that it was important to get the Y2K out of there. We know have a program office, we've got a war room set up, and I think we're in very, very good shape on Y2K. We are still concerned about it, but I think we've got the resources in place to deal with that. And that person does report directly to the Administrator, so you're absolutely right. That issue is a serious one, I think we've dealt with it.
The other issue is where the CIO officer should be placed. I've talked with my colleagues at GAO, and what I have said to them is that we are looking at the organizational structure of our administrative arm, if you will. We've got some management changes there and we're looking at a couple of those positions being pulled out and reporting to the Administrator.
And I've promised them that as I look at that and I'd like to talk with them a little bit more about it. Quite honestly, my only concern is that right now I've got 14 people making direct reports to the Administrator, and I want to make sure that from a management perspective, the span of control isn't so wide that it becomes unmanageable. So, we're having good conversations about that, taking a hard look at it.
A critical piece of Y2K I think is well on its way. And we'll be happy to get back to you when we've reached a final decision, but again, it's one I would not make in isolation, but with good coordination with GAO and with the Secretary's office as well.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. EHLERS. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. FOX. Yes.
Mr. EHLERS. I thank you for yielding. I just would like to underscore the comment made by the gentleman from Pennsylvania. You may be interested in corporate America, in a survey recently of corporations with regard to the Y2K problem, virtually every corporation where the CIO reports directly to the CEO, there is no Y2K problem. In virtually every corporation where this is not true, there is a substantial Y2K problem.
And I think in view of the incredible dependancy of the FAA on computers, on information, on systems, particularly very large programs, if there's any agency which should have the CIO reporting directly to the chief, it would be your Agency.
And if you already have 14, you have too many. Get rid of 4 or 5 of those and replace them with a CIO and you'll be better off.
Ms. GARVEY. That's part of the discussion, Congressman, we're re-shifting some of those.
Mr. FOX. Thank you, reclaiming my time.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you for yielding.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FOX. Thank you, reclaiming my time. Thank you, we also have arranged for you special extra hours in the day to make sure we can have those extra meetings.
But actually, I have one other question. I understand the press release from the Department on February 12 had an announcement that the FAA had developed an accelerated plan for air traffic control modernization. Has this plan been provided to Congress or the GAO? And may the committee get a copy, and our chairman and ranking member?
Ms. GARVEY. Obviously we definitely will get a copy us to you. I think what we're really talking about is the free flight Phase I, the early implementation of modernization where there does seem to be a growing consensus with industry and we think it's a very positive step forward and I'm very pleased with that.
Mr. FOX. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Administrator Garvey.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Fox. Mr. Lipinski.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm sorry that Mr. LaHood has departed, I had a few comments to make in regards to his earlier statement about Secretary Brown, but we'll leave that go for another day. Perhaps in the near future we can all meet with the Secretary of Transportation of the State of Illinois, and sit down and discuss the aviation matters in northern Illinois. He's an expert in regards to building highways and he's been helpful in regards to mass transit. His knowledge of aviation we'll talk about later on.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I want to thank all of you for being here. I certainly appreciate it. All of you always bring us a considerable amount of very unique information. Not always information that we are happy to hear but nevertheless it is unique; it is informative information. I have a few questions, but first of all I want to say that some people have made some statements in regards to the Administrator and the job that she has done and how inclusive she has tried to be, and just last night I was out at a fund-raising event for another Member of the of the aviation subcommittee, and there were a number of people there from unions, and they went out of their way to tell me how much you've been trying to include them in all deliberations, how you've made them all feel very involved. And I salute you for that, and I'm sure that's going to help the FAA function much better and solve problems much more quickly.
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you very much.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Dillingham, often the FAA cost and schedule estimates provided to Congress are not accurate or substantially revised in midstream. What do you see as the contributing factors to this situation? What can be done to change the situation to make sure that Congress gets more accurate and timely information?
Mr. DILLINGHAM. Mr. Lipinski, I think the WAAS program is a good example of what you're talking about, where we've seen in recent months a half-billion dollar cost growth in that program. And I think that probably the main contributing factor is that FAA oftentimes comes to Congress with a point estimate, that is, it's going to cost x amount of dollars, not a range and no confidence around that range.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And also, it seems to be a lack of talking about the risks that are associated with even achieving that point estimate. That now is beginning to change as we can see with the modernization taskforce coming back indicating what the risks are associated with programs. And we've also advised FAA that it's better to tell the Congress what the full possible costs might be and what the risks are rather than giving what some people call a low ball estimate and then subsequently telling the truth after millions of dollars are already invested. It's very hard sometimes to turn that spigot off, but if you give Congress the range and the risks then everyone knows and they can make decisions based on full information.
Mr. LIPINSKI. I think that would be a much better approach, and I think that we all be a lot happier if we were to go that way.
For the Administrator, now that you have initiated the modernization task force and are building a consensus for modernization plans, what do you see as the most significant challenge to maintaining this consensus?
Ms. GARVEY. That is an excellent question, and I wish I had a perfect answer for that. I think I'm just going to have to continue to work toward consensus, and we are going to have to continue to work the consensus, to make sure the lines of communication are open.
I just called ATA this morning and asked if I could address the chief operating officers when they're in town at the beginning of April because one of the challenges is going to be, determining the sites where we're going to deploy equipment early, and we talked about the fact that we all agree that early deployment is a good idea but once you start talking about one site versus another, then sometimes it becomes more difficult for people. So I've asked if I can come and talk with the chief operating officers from all the airlines and continue that discussion about what we want to accomplish and how important it is for us to stay together.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I think one of the most damaging things is that we often seem to have buy-in but we don't have real commitment from the industry and I think that can be really confusing to Congress. Very often you're receiving different messages and I hope that we can avoid that. Again, I'm not naive enough to think that you can get 100 percent, but if we can get a critical mass with us, and we can stay together, I think we can really move ahead on this.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Another question I have for you is, Mr. Mead was talking about your schedule of November 1999 and moving it up to June of 1999. Is it your opinion that might be doable?
Ms. GARVEY. Mr. Lipinski, we worked very hard with the IG to move those dates up and our program plan which is going to be issued March 9 will have the June date. And I will tell you that the Secretary is asking us to continue to review that, to continue to evaluate it and see if we can move it up even further. I'm trying to strike the right balance between being aggressive but also being realistic. But we have established June as the date.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I see my time is up.
Mr. DUNCAN. Did you have something you wanted to add Mr. Dillingham?
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DILLINGHAM. Yes, Mr. Chairman. We want to sort of reiterate the need for a backup plan for Y2K and that means that there needs to be a contingency plan just in case we find the systems are not Y2K-complaint. We know that FAA currently has a contingency plan but the last time we looked at it, that contingency plan involved relying on systems that also may not be Y2K-compliant. And we're in the process of reviewing FAA's contingency plan, and that's very important. Even though we're in a new day, the history of bringing things in on time leaves something to be desired, so we again are stressing the need for a continency plan that has certain triggers that should go into place just in case this doesn't happen.
Mr. DUNCAN. Based on some of the history that you've given us today and in the past, to say that the history of on-time delivery of some of these programs and systems leaves something to be desired, that's a great understatement.
And I don't want to delay any of you or the next panel, but I do want to go back to just a few things that we've mentioned or covered earlier.
Mr. Dillingham, you have part of your prepared statement in which you say in 1983, FAA estimated the cost to develop AAS to be $2.5 billion and completion was scheduled for 1996. When IBM was awarded a development contract in 1988 after a 4-year design competition, FAA estimated the project would cost $4.8 billion and be completed in 1998. By 1994, when FAA restructured the automation program, the FAA estimated the cost to develop AAS to be as much as $7.6 billion with a completion as late 2003.
And what I'm wondering about, you mentioned in your testimony earlier that you feel we've made some changes, and we did the overhaul of the civil aviation laws and instituted personnel and procurement reforms to give the FAA more authority to do some things that they couldn't do in the past.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Do you think that 2 or 3 years from now, or 4 or 5 years from now, this subcommittee is going to hear testimony similar to this about something else? In other words, do you see any red flags out there? You said we've got a chance for a new beginning, but do you see improvements or are we just going to hear the same type of thing a few years from now about these or some other programs? Do you see want I'm getting at?
Mr. DILLINGHAM. Yes, sir. Mr. Chairman, I think that recognizing that this is one huge undertaking, we're talking about 200 separate projects, we're talking about how the Congress has already appropriated $25 billion for this modernization. There will be some problems, but based on what we see now in terms of the way Administrator Garvey is approaching the modernization effort with getting consensus, and moving ahead with the things the users say they need, and identifying the risks, we would say that there would be much less of the problems we just described this morning. There will be some cases but certainly we're on a different road now.
Mr. DUNCAN. You mentioned a figure just now of $25 billion and I'm told that in the past the FAA has had s history of starting some program and then splitting it into numerous other programs so that some these cost figures are very hard to track. Is that correct?
Mr. DILLINGHAM. That's correct. In fact, we were asked recently exactly how much money was wasted from AAS up through now and we had to answer by saying we have to go back and figure it out because of that circumstance that you described, about it being split and being given names and so forth. It is very hard, but we're working on that aspect of it.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Mead, I have a chart here which shows various programs that have been delayed. This is GAO; this is not yours. But it shows a little of the history about programs being delayed and are canceled. And what I'm wondering, we heard a word from you today that we've heard often in here before, and that's slippage.
Do you see many programs within the FAA today that are experiencing slippage and do you think that things are pretty much on course? And do you think that have most of these delays and slippages and so forth, and cost overruns, been caused by changing specifications or requirements in midstream? Or has it been something else primarily?
Mr. MEAD. I'd say all of the above, Mr. Chairman. Since Administrator Garvey has taken office, I think she has seen firsthand the need to encourage a culture that is more open about what the full ramifications and timetables will be for the various programs.
I think you will be seeing some slippage. I think there's a lot on FAA's plate right now, and frankly, I'm concerned about the number of important mega-activities we have going at once, all centered on that year 2000 time line. So I would not be surprised if you see a more slippage, but I don't believe you're going to see any more AASs.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, that is good to hear. Let me ask you this. Are you satisfied that the FAA is looking closely enough at costs and benefits? The old AAS contract, most of the benefits were supposed to be in the last phases, then the ACCC was canceled and then we came back with part of it. Do you think that the modernization that's going on now has been looked at sufficiently with a cost-benefit analysis and that we're on the right track?
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. MEAD. The improvements have been a magnitude of light years in the sense of cost, getting a handle on costs and being more up-front with them. For example, consider life-cycle costs and this $3.2 billion estimate for WAAS. You would never hear that figure several years ago because the FAA wouldn't say what the life cycle costs were. They would tell you instead the costs to purchase the computer system and that would be it.
I'm not as comfortable with the handle FAA has on benefits of these programs. The process of calculating the benefits can be made more sophisticated. There are still too many disputes about what the benefits are. One positive result of the task force that Ms. Garvey established was that people of disparate views came together to discuss the benefits.
And it's amazing, when you get all these people in a room, to see a matter that we thought there was an agreement on suddenly fall apartwell, one discovers the devil is in the details.
Mr. DUNCAN. Let me ask you this, in fact I've mentioned this to some other groups before, but my friend Vern Ehlers is a real exception in this Congress, for whatever reason, there are very few people in the Congress or in political elective office throughout the country who come from a scientific or technical background. And so you can tell from the questions that have been asked todayand I don't come from that kind of backgroundand you can tell from the questions that have been asked many people on this subcommittee and most of the peopleI'm talking 98 or 99 percent of the people in the Congressdo not come from a scientific or technical background and do not really understand many of these programs about which we have talked today.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And yet I also have the feeling that if somebody really understands a particular program they can explain it even to a simpleminded person like me in a way that it can be understood. And what I'm going to suggest is that if you see problems developing that we need to know, let's don't wait on a hearing. Let us know.
Come to see Mr. Lipinski and I, or let us know about these things, so maybe we can get a little better jump on some of these things than perhaps we've had in the past because while we may not understand when you first begin talking, there are many of us on this subcommittee who have a strong desire to try to stay on top of these things and look into these things before they develop into huge problems.
I'm fascinated by this Year-2000 problem. We discussed this yesterday, Administrator Garvey and I really like the suggestion that Dr. Ehlers made. But after I met with you, I had two different people, one of whom was my friend Steve Horn who is probably looking into this Year-2000 problem more than anyone in the Congress, and he said that he really had serious doubts that the FAA washe thought the November 1999 time frame was cutting it too close. And then I'm told that Secretary Slaterand you know I'm not trying to criticize you or say anything bad. Secretary Slater said that they were going to have all these problems corrected by January of 1999. And there's a little difference there.
So what I'm saying or suggesting is that maybe we really need to pay a lot of attention to this. I think it's mind-boggling and our computer do miraculous things, and make our lives so much better, but why they can't recognize that we're going from December 31, 1999, to January 1, 2000. I mean it's just mind-boggling the problems and costs that people say are going to be associated with this.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I read in ''Newsweek'' not long ago that the costs may exceed over a trillion dollars now. I read in ''U.S. News and World Report'' recently that some people think that you ought to come down and draw out enough money out of the bank to tide you over for a few months in case the banks go berserk, and I shake my head because in my maybe simpleminded optimism, it seems that this is a problem that we surely can solve before all that hits. But it just is amazing to me. But I hope you'll really concentrate on that.
Ms. GARVEY. Very much so, Mr. Chairman. Again, I just want to mention, we have, I think, a very fine team in place. We are still very concerned about it, but this is all the team does. We have a command center at Tysons Corner, we have a business partner in Coopers & Lybrand, and we are very, very focused on it. Ray Long, who is the leader of the team, I think is topnotch and I think we've worked closely with the IG and with GAO, and we'll continue to do that. We're very concerned about it and very focused on it.
Mr. DUNCAN. We started out controlling the computers and now they're controlling us, I think.
But let me mention one other thing. I know I've gone way over my time and I want to go to Mr. Oberstar, but while some of us don't understand some of the technical complexities of some of these things, most of us in the Congress do relate well or understand money.
And as I mentioned in my opening statement, we gave the FAA what I think was the biggest increase ever the past year, and we've given you these personnel and procurement reforms, and we've been trying real hard to take away any excuses that you might haveand it's not that you used them, but we're talking about people that have used these excuses in the past. And so we're putting a lot of pressure on you, but we're talking about giving you another big increase in funding in this next fiscal year. But it gets a little discouraging to keep giving you these big increases in funding and then as I said in my opening statement, read about the FAA still relying on the machines and computers and equipment that dates back to the 1950's and 1960's. Are we making progress? Are we getting that corrected so that we don't have to keep hearing about that?
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. GARVEY. Mr. Chairman, I believe we are. I mean the 1,500 pieces of equipment that I talked about replacing over the last year really range from the smallest piece to things that are more sophisticated. DSR and STARS will go a long way in continuing those efforts, or building on those efforts, along with the longer-term automation tools and the satellite navigation. We are taking an incremental approach. And you're right, we've got to watch how we're spending the money, we've got to spend it wisely and well but above all we've got to improve the system, and we have the safest in the world, we've got to make sure it stays that way.
Mr. DUNCAN. I thank you very much. Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
This is a very important hearing, and it's very timely. It's good of you to focus, and I hope we'll continue to have not just public hearings, but as you suggested, and as I called them in the past, in camera hearings, meetings, rather, where to meet informally review and stay on top of issues, problems, and try to partner with FAA, GAO, and the IG to keep on track all of these complexities.
The panel gathered here is one of the most distinguished and I'm glad that Mr. Levin has been recognized at the outset by the chairman. I wish you well in your new endeavors.
I couldn't help thinking when Mr. Ewing raised questions about AirTran and leaks and so on, that the ship of state is the only ship that leaks from the top.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We're seeing that in abundance around this town.
But there's nothing new about somebody going through that, and it's good that you've done. It's important to have done it, but, you know, when these are done, I think it is important to keep in mind, in your new capacity as Administrator to let those folks down the line know that they've got to keep Congress informed along the way. Surprise is the worst element of a leak. If everybody knows it's coming, it's not a leak.
This air traffic control modernization needs to be put in a little bit of context. It was started in 1981. The NAS plan was announced in 1982, it was announced to be a $32 billion, 20-year program, to address the complex array of everything in FAA and to update, modernize the systems to accommodate what then was understood to be far more rapid growth in air traffic than anyone had imagined when we enacted deregulation 3 years earlier.
There were 275 million boardings in 1978; there are over 600 million today. The aircraft in the airspace fly 6 billion miles. En route centers handle 23 million flights a year. Towers and TRACONs together handle 90 million operations a year. That's an enormous volume. There is no other country in the world, you add them all up, they don't add up to this.
We have half of all the passengers in the world traveling in the United States, half of all air operations travel in the United States. Other systems are puny compared to this one. And what we were designing in 1981, we, FAA, IBMFAA takes the rap all the time, but IBM was a partner in this. The private sector, you always hear the great god private sector is going to solve these problems, but they were part of the design, of the hardware and the software, and the planning, and the system. And Hughes was in there bidding with them, and it was to develop a realtime system. Remember you're managing something that moves 10 miles a minute at 7 miles in the air. There is no curb to pull over and fix the problem if something goes wrong.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And it was, in hindsight, over-designed. But the idea was to design for AAS, now the DSR, but the idea was to design a system that would keep track on a realtime basis far more complex information than any other computer system does in the United States, and to do it with seven-9's of reliability, 9's to the 7th place.
In hindsight, that proved to be too costly and maybe too technically difficult to achieve. We're also looking at computers that are, in a time line, in the Paleozoic era of computer technology.
But FAA has made a lot of progress. I've been a friend. I've been a critic, a severe critic. Mr. Mead knows over the years how many hours we spent together in committee, in my office, in other offices, discussing the problems and what to do to fix them. And I think that after all these efforts, through four Presidencies, through numerous Administrators, the FAA now has a handle on what it has to do. Cut that seven-9's down to five-9's of reliability. Cut a lot of cost out. Took systems out. The electronic flight strips, it was going to be a billion dollars to do. You can write those flight strips in pencil on a little piece of paper, and do the same job and not have all that cost. Maybe you can do it at a later time.
Then we began to understand that what we're really doing with five basic systems is developing platforms on which other technology was going to rest. So these platforms then had to be redesigned and the technology fixed so that we would resist requirements creep which kept adding costs. Every time a new person got a look at the DSR and said, oh, we want a conflict alert; Oh, we'd like to have it in color; Oh, we'd like to have it flashing. And all of those are good to do, but they add more software, they add more technology, they add more cost, and they add more time.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
At some point in one of the hearings, Mr. Chairman, I said to the IBM head of federal systems: I want a hammer and nails. I want to nail your shoes to the floor so you can't creep anymore. Stay put.
Well now we've got a stay-put design. And the VSCS, the Voice Switching and Control System, was installed last year. Over one weekend, a billion-dollar system without one minute of shutting down the air traffic control system. That's the equivalent of changing a tire on your car while moving at 60 miles an hour.
When Olds changed over to their new car system from the Sierra to the next version, they shut down the system for 3 weeks. FAA can't do that when it's changing over. You've got to have 24-hour, 7-day-a-week reliability. And you did it last year. It worked.
Now we've got STARS. STARS was technology engineering, hardware engineering, software-driven. And thanks to your leadership, Ms. Garvey, I think you have fixed in place the engineering side of it and moved the managers of the system, both Raytheon and the FAA managers, from the hardware and software to the human interface, and brought in the controllers who were kept out of it far too long.
By the way, the DSR, the en route controls of aircraft at high altitudes, is replacing the system that had 750,000 lines of computer code. That replaced a system that had 37,000 lines of computer code. What we're installing today is going to have a million and a half lines of computer code. And when David Hinson took over as administrator in 1993, there were more program trouble reports than there were lines of computer code. And now those are under control. They're fixed and the DSR is going to meet its waterfall, 3 years behind schedule but it's going to meet that schedule and I'm pleased with that.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Now I want STARS to meet its schedule. The computer-human interface issues were down to about 100, 87 resolved, 12 still open. You fixed the opaque windows issues. You fixed the borders issues, taking them out. You fixed the tool bar question. Weather is going to be integrated automatically now without having to call it up. And the ABC keyboard is fixed, it's recessed. The track ball issue is fixed. What remains?
Ms. GARVEY. Well, there are still a few issues, as you pointed out, that remain. But, again, I think we're confident that they will be able to resolve them.
Mr. Oberstar, I have to say every time I come to a hearing like this with you, I learn so much more about aviation. I'm actually kind of overwhelmed at the number of computer systems now, though. I thought I felt confident until I heard those numbers.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, there are 58,000 systems in the modernization program, and FAA has installed 48,000.
Ms. GARVEY. I'm so glad you didn't ask me that, Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. OBERSTAR. No, but thisSTARS is a platform. It is not the complete system. On STARS will be precision runway monitoring added and weather systems will be added on it. And it's got to be flexible enough and manageable enough for the controllers to operate it efficiently, effectively and add those systems in without delays, and in modular form so that when there's a problem, you can take them out and put the one in, and not have to shut the whole station down. Right? Mr. Mead, are we on track?
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. MEAD. Yes, sir. I was just going to add that I have a list here I'll submit for the record, listing the human factor issues. And I think to FAA's credit, they have put in place a human factors process. Now we have to apply it to all these other acquisitions so we don't have these 11th-hour reworks and retrofits.
But I would caution everybody that if we don't also put in place a process for deciding which of the remaining human factors issues we are going to fix and when we're going to fix them, within an overall goal of a safe and effective deployment that is roughly on schedule, this process is going to go on for months and months.
I suppose this would be within the power of the Administrator. However, these are matters that involve three and four-way streetsthe controllers, the maintenance technicians and the different units in FAA must agree and agree very soon for this procurement to stay on course.
Mr. OBERSTAR. There is an integration issue. You have the modernization of management of traffic at altitude, DSR, and you have management of traffic at approach, and on the ground, TRACON and tower. If one gets ahead of the other, especially if the en route system is developed and all of its technology, the software, hardware, the other additions to the basic DSR platform, and you can move aircraft faster from point of departure through destination, and the TRACON hardware and software isn't operational and the human interface isn't, then you're going to have people making donuts in the air, and will not have achieved the efficiency. So the two have to be on track together. Is that not right?
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. GARVEY. Correct.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Is the one going to be ready to accommodate the other?
Ms. GARVEY. They will be. I don't think we're quite at that point yet, and I mentioned a little earlier, but Mr. Mead's point that we've got to resolve the issues is an important one and we've got a commitment at the highest levels of the unions and also I think, among our selves, for us to meet at the end of March, on March 31, to make sure that we at the highest levels are dealing with the remaining issues.
But it's a tough balance between responding to the human factors issues which we absolutely want to do, but also knowing that, as Mr. Mead said, at some point we need to bring things to closure and move on. And I think that's really why the next few weeks will be critical, to deal with the issues that you have raised, Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Are you developing a national airspace configuration plan?
Ms. GARVEY. I'm sorry?
Mr. OBERSTAR. A national airspace configuration plan. It's been long talked about and is some state of development.
Ms. GARVEY. It has been long talked about and I know that Monte Belger is working very hard on that issue. I think one of the challenges for us in that is that taking on the whole system, which I know we need to do, is such an enormous task. So many years can pass before you again come to resolution, that what I've asked him to do is look at particular corridors and see if there's a way that we again, sort of triage the approach and deal with some of the more critical corridors first as we think through the whole plan. And that's one thing he is looking at right now.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. OBERSTAR. The whole objective of this modernization program, and I'll conclude, Mr. Chairman, is safety, efficiency of operation, and benefits to air system users. Now the safety issue is that we could put in one cubic mile of airspace all 4,300 commercial aircraft operating in the United States today. It wouldn't be safe, but you could physically do that. You never see, or at least rarely, see another aircraft when you're flying. And you shouldn't see one. That's the objective of this modernization program.
From the standpoints of the carriers and the travelers, they want to get efficiently from point A to point B. They don't want, when they finally descend from altitude to approach control 40 miles out, they don't want to be held in a pattern, as we did in the aftermath of the air traffic control strike in 1981. The system was as safe as it could be, but it was slow, inefficient.
We were told that user benefits, that FAA would enjoy benefits of about $13 billion this point into the 1990's and users would enjoy benefits in the range of $32 to $35 billion. There are ways of measuring it. Has FAA updated those figures?
Ms. GARVEY. We've not yet updated those figures but those figures will be updated and one of the issues that we're working very closely with industry on too, is as we move forward, how are we going to measure the benefits. Some of the industry representatives on RTCA have suggested that we work closely with RTCA to develop some metric so that we can understand the benefits more clearly.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, there are other tools that the airlines have prioritized as matters that are important to them: To be able to have straighter flight plans so they have fewer diversions around military systems, or to accommodate slow, inefficient ground control systems for moving air traffic, but also they want to increase the arrival capacity at airports and on the ground, to improve handling of ground traffic.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Those are airline priorities: Get us in faster, move us on the ground faster, get us to the gate faster, move people from the gate faster. Those are what the carriers see as efficiency matters that improve their bottom line.
And for travelers, Mr. Duncan doesn't want to miss his first meeting when he flies home this weekend, and I don't either. But we do, when we have to go around thunder heads and when there's too much traffic on the ground, we have to hold someplace, or we're held on the ground before we even get into the air. Those are the efficiency and operational sides of this thing.
Well, you're very generous with time, Mr. Chairman, thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you, Mr. Oberstar. You always add so much to our hearings and I'm amazed that with all the things, Superfund and highway safety and everything else that are on your plate, that you still maintain so much knowledge of, and interest in, the activities of this subcommittee. And, you know, I was so impressed. I asked you a question about the change of specifications and requirements, but when you described requirements creep, and went into that, you did it in a much more articulate way. But the thought occurred to me when you talked about the names of some of these programs, and they've been changed so that sometimes you can't even compare, you know, you're comparing apples with oranges now. And it seems to me that perhaps the names have been changed to protect the guilty in some cases, in some of these things in the past.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We're going to get into the human factors on the next panel. I believe Mr. Blunt wants us to move onto the next panel. Mr. Cummings do you have any questions?
Well, thank you very much. You've been a really informative panel and let's try to keep on top of all of these issues. It's going to be very difficult, I know. But thank you for all you're doing.
Ms. GARVEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DILLINGHAM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Panel number 2 which we call forward at this time consists of Mr. Jack Ryan who is vice president for Air Traffic Management at the Air Transport Association, Mr. Mike McNally who is president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Mr. Michael Fanfalone who is president of the Professional Airways Systems Specialists, and Mr. Christopher D. Wickens, who is Chair of the Panel on Human Factors and Air Traffic Control Automation for the National Research Council.
And I'll ask each of the members of the second panel, Mr. Ryan, Mr. McNally, Mr. Fanfalone, Mr. Wickens, to please take their seats at the table. And I want to thank each of you for coming, and the way I always proceed is we go in the order the witnesses are listed on the call of the hearing, and that means that Mr. Ryan would go first. So, Mr. Ryan, you may proceed with your testimony.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
TESTIMONY OF JACK RYAN, VICE PRESIDENT, AIR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT, AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, ACCOMPANIED BY MICHAEL P. MCNALLY, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ASSOCIATION; MICHAEL FANFALONE, PRESIDENT, PROFESSIONAL AIRWAYS SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS; AND CHRISTOPHER D. WICKENS, CHAIR, PANEL ON HUMAN FACTORS IN AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL AUTOMATION, NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
Mr. RYAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning. 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 National Airspace System modernization.
Because of the growth and increasing demands on dated NAS infrastructure, we're excited about Administrator Garvey's initiative to pursue a NAS modernization program that will provide the airspace users with proven technologies and systems capable of meeting immediate operational requirements without compromising safety. In fact, we strong believe that several of these systems, such as traffic management advisor, passive final approach spacing tool, collaborative decision making, conflict probe, and controller/pilot data-link communications, and surface movement advisor, will enhance overall system safety and efficiencies. A matrix indicating these air traffic management core technologies and the geographic locations where they are operationally need by the nation's airlines is attached to my written testimony.
We believe that the implementation of these core technologies, as they are called, at the indicated locations will be the first major steps toward preventing the air traffic gridlock as shown in studies independently conducted by an ATA member airline and an FAA-sponsored research group. The picture and accompanying message were clear: If we do not take immediate action to modernize the NAS, then by 2005 we will still have airlines, but they will not be scheduled airlines.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The FAA NAS 3.0 plan is largely based on the assumption that the Global Positioning System with augmentation is robust and reliable enough to support sole means navigation in domestic airspace. The ATA member airlines endorse this assumption, however, the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection released a report that the DOT: One, fully evaluate actual and potential sources of interference to, and vulnerabilities of, GPS before a final decision is reached to eliminate all other radio navigation and aircraft landing guidance systems. Two, sponsor a risk assessment for GPS-based systems used by the civilian sector projected through 2010. Three, base a decision regarding the proper federal radionavigation system mix and the final architecture of the NAS on the results of that assessment.
A plan to conduct the assessment and incorporate the requisite changes to the FAA NAS modernization plans must be accomplished promptly.
The FAA NAS architecture plans and the MITRE recommendations place significant emphasis on the demonstration of various technologies as part of the Flight 2000 program. We agree with FAA that Flight 2000 could be a crucial risk mitigation strategy for the NAS modernization process and believe now, as we did in our letter of July 1, 1997, to the FAA, that Flight 2000 would serve as the catalyst for the early implementation of next generation technologies in the NAS. Furthermore, the ATA's endorsement of Flight 2000 in July 1997 was based on the recommendation to FAA of an extensive list of demonstration sites and technologies in locations other than Hawaii and Alaska that had weather, traffic, and appropriate runway configurations to subject the various technologies to a valid demonstration.
ATA's recommendations were not adopted. We would like to work together within an FAA-ATA framework to further pursue Flight 2000. The notion that technology should be prototyped at operational facilities or installed on participating aircraft is a good one. FAA and ATA need agreement on where and how these demonstrations should be conducted to have the most positive impact on the project's development, and secure NAS modernization.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In conclusion, we recommend: One, a risk assessment of the GPS-WAAS navigation system must be conducted as soon as possible by a joint FAA-industry team. Two, FAA must deploy the core technologies as soon as possible at locations indicated to improve the capacity and efficiency of the National Airspace System. Three, FAA must pause after WAAS Phase I to allow the FAA and the aviation industry the opportunity to re-evaluate the WAAS architecture and the overall WAAS program. Lastly, FAA must collaborate with the aviation industry to establish plans for Flight 2000 ensuring the demonstrations of needed technology, mitigate appropriate risks, and are conducted in high-density traffic locations where appropriate.
We're at a critical juncture in the NAS modernization process and now is the time for clear, decisive action. The service providers and the airspace users must join together to build a NAS infrastructure capable of safely and efficiently supporting the air transportation of people and goods. The ATA member airlines have committed to fulfill their responsibility and look forward to working directly with the FAA.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm ready to answer questions whenever.
Mr. DUNCAN. We'll get to those in a few minutes, Mr. Ryan, and thank you very much.
Mr. MCNALLY. Good morning Mr. Chairman, Congressman Lipinski and the Members of the subcommittee. We thank you for asking us here today. My name is Mike McNally and I am the president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Associate.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
As you may be aware, in late 1997, NATCA was given an opportunity to join the human factors team where we could prove air traffic controllers bring value to technology design. MITRE Corporation facilitated this group. Since then, NATCA controllers joined FAA human factors specialists to identify computer interface problems associated with the emergency service level of STARS. There are two stages of STARS development. An initial phase referred to as the early display configuration replaces a controller's current radar scope, and this STARS operates off existing equipment called ARTS. Full STARS, the ultimate goal, includes the just-mentioned new radar scopes and introduces whole new technology to replace ARTS in a backroom.
MITRE led this human factors workgroup which consisted of FAA STARS program office, Air Traffic Requirements Services, Air Traffic Operations, NATCA, PASS, DOD and human factors representatives.
It began its work in the FAA's technical center outside of Atlantic City. After one week of intensive research, the workgroup identified nearly 100 problems with the emergency service level STARS equipment, and grouped them into similar categories. The workgroup's next step was to examine each problem identified and suggest possible corrections.
They also established a human factors process to generate prototype design options, evaluate the alternatives under different levels of operational realism, and ultimately resolve issues. As of February 25, 1998, the team has closed 87 of the 98, as you heard previously. It is now working to refine design solutions and address the remaining 11 items.
This week as we speak here, today, a separate group of controllers is validating the group's recommendations. They include a recessed ABC keyboard, track ball, target information comparable to ARTS, a computer toolbar and knobs, hot function keys to expedite controller command, and a limited Windows display environment.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
These have now been suggested to the contractor which will evaluate the cost and scheduling. Only then will we understand budget implications and how long it will take the emergency service level of STARS.
NATCA needs to emphasize that if and when every problem identified is resolved, the work will only be partially finished. Once this interim level of STARS has been evaluated, remember it is designed to work with the existing background equipment, or ARTS. On this note, everyone is working hard to meet the STARS schedule, however, I need to stress the importance of getting it right the first time. If a few more months are needed in order to fix potential problems prior to implantation at DCA, NATCA will support the extra time.
I need to emphasize NATCA and the controllers involved do not attempt to define or incorporate additional functionality through this process. Our desire was simply to replace the current aging, unreliable equipment with suitable replacements that do not force controllers to reduce their capacity and efficiency of the NAS.
The concept of controller involvement in equipment work projects, which, by the way, was congressionally mandated, is found in FAA's human factors procurement requirements documents. While human factors have always been an integral part of procurement procedures, FAA has chosen to ignore their inclusion in the past. This helps explain its dismal track record in the new technology arena, and led a frustrated Congress in 1997 to take action. In order to complete human factors process for all projects, present and future, under the leadership of its new Administrator, Jane Garvey. Believing FAA and NATCA shared responsibility for the suitability of finished produce, we seized the opportunity to help achieve an efficient and user-friendly replacement.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
NATCA is aware that STARS coupled with its own backroom equipment will not necessarily be the same as STARS working with ARTS. But air traffic controllers must know how the final STARS product will perform before they can welcome the emergency level STARS into their facilities. Controllers, pilots, the airline industry, business and general aviation need permanent, efficient, usable tools for the future. The new air traffic controller workforce has learned from experience not to accept promises to fix the product after installation. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words, and FAA management's past actions do not promote an environment of trust at this time.
NATCA is pleased with both the progress made with STARS and the new process, thanks to the MITRE Corporation and the leadership of Jane Garvey. The STARS project is the first and only project that has benefitted from the full and unlimited participation of air traffic controllers, key users of the technology.
I am proud of the work done by this team of professionals and each of the air traffic controllers who devoted their time and energies to accomplish tasks thus far. We believe we've proven our merits as part of the human factors team because of the results. Benefits of this collaborative relationship are at least fourfold.
Briefly, they are: The FAA and taxpayers will not be subjected to unnecessary cost overruns because historic, massive modifications in midstream will be minimized. Airlines and privately owned aircraft owners will appreciate a higher degree of safety and increased productivity as it relates to the system. The equipment will perform well, add to the overall economic impact positively. And finally, most importantly, it will provide safety to the American flying public.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
As Members of Congress, you probably have heard of Administrator Garvey's new way of doing business and a can-do attitude. NATCA wants to help her succeed. We want the FAA to establish a reputation for fielding state-of-the-art, useable and accepted technology in a timely manner. If STARS is any example, NATCA with other key players will help the Agency more toward these goals.
We have little time to replace aging equipment, but we sincerely believe, given the opportunity, we can get the job done. It will neither be easy, nor inexpensive in the beginning, however, it is now abundantly obvious to all concerned that the full, meaningful involvement of actual air traffic controllers, from vision to deployment, is our only avenue to a safer, more productive air traffic control system.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to add that the controllers would like me to express to the committee that controllers are Y2K-compliant and they'll be there on December 31, 1999.
Mr. DUNCAN. Okay. Well thank you very much, Mr. McNally. Unfortunately, we do have a vote going on. We're going to have to break very briefly and we'll be back in just a few minutes. Thank you.
We'll recess at this time.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Recess.]
Mr. DUNCAN [presiding.] All right, we'll proceed now with the hearing. And Mr. Fanfalone, we'll proceed with your testimony at this time.
Mr. FANFALONE. Good morning. Mr. Chairman and Members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting PASS to testify today on the issues surrounding the development of STARS and DSR.
My name is Mike Fanfalone. I'm president of the Professional Airways Systems Specialists. PASS represents more than 10,000 system specialists, flight inspection pilots, aviation safety inspectors and safety support staff employed by the FAA.
STARS is designed to replace the 1970's vintage automated radar terminal system currently used for terminal control of air traffic. While this is a needed step in the modernization of that nation's air traffic control system, there are yet many unresolved issues with STARS, many of which are those associated with human factors.
Last April, PASS identified 89 human factors issues with STARS. Since Congressman Wolf's hearing in November, PASS technical experts with the assistance of the MITRE Corporation, have been working with the FAA and the contractor to resolve these issues. While PASS continues to receive assurances from Administrator Garvey, her top level managers, and the MITRE Corporation, we are guardedly optimistic as to whether the program office and the contractor are serious about addressing our concerns.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The dozens of outstanding issues are not matters of personal preference, but concern the very safety and efficiency of the NAS. They range from a lack of audible alarms to the inconsistent use of color on the display indicating problems, to inadequate site prep work.
PASS is also actively involved in the development of another new system, the DSR. The problems we've identified with the DSR in some ways are even more significant than those with STARS. The problems associated with the use of the so-called Blue Moose, used for transporting displays, is a major concern for personnel safety. Also the DSR console is not designed to allow easy access to the Voice Switching and Control System, VSCS, with the printed circuit boards. This will add hours to the time needed for maintenance and repair.
Additionally, there's a major logistical problem with the CRT tubes which are used in the display monitors in that the manufacturer will only provide approximately 1,200 of the 3,000 needed for deployment. Finding another manufacturer is critical, and will more than likely result in having to retrofit each display to accommodate another manufacturer's tubes.
Currently, the DSR is being installed in facilities across the country. While PASS appreciates the need to maintain a rigid deployment schedule, continuing with the installation knowing our significant problems that will need to be corrected will only add significant costs to incorporating the fixes to already-installed systems.
As I mentioned earlier, PASS is guardedly optimistic on the FAA's ability to incorporate the technical expertise of our members in order to deploy viable new systems into the NAS. Our optimism, however, comes from having worked with Administrator Garvey over the past several months. PASS believes the Administrator is sincere in her efforts.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We have agreed to keep the deployment of STARS and DSR away from the traditional bargaining table as much as possible. Rather, our approach is one of working collaboratively to resolve the issues both of us face.
I believe that no one understands more than Administrator Garvey the need to successfully deploy both STARS and DSR, and we in PASS are committed to helping her succeed in this effort. While we appreciate the interest of this subcommittee in understand the issues regarding STARS and DSR, and the need for appropriate oversight in modernization of the NAS, PASS believes that with Administrator Garvey's leadership and the technology expertise of our membership, the FAA has all the tools it needs to be successful.
This concludes my testimony. I'd be happy to answer questions from yourself or any Member of the subcommittee.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Fanfalone. And Mr. Wickens, we'll go to you now.
Mr. WICKENS. Good morning, Mr. Chairman. My name is Chris Wickens. I'm a professor of psychology and head of the aviation research lab at the University of Illinois. I'm also chair of National Research Panel on the human factors of air traffic control automation.
Three years ago, our panel was assembled at the request of the committee with the goal of providing recommendations to the FAA on how human factors should be ensured in the introduction of automation systems to support air traffic control.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The panel consisted of controllers, pilots, researchers trained in human factors and aviation psychology.
In order to achieve our goal, it was necessary for us first to summarize the human factors issues the present air traffic control system. And these were described in our first book, ''The Flight to the Future.'' Then in the last year, we considered the human factors associated with automation of a variety of air traffic control functions. This is only a subset of the much larger issue of modernization, that is, replacing older components with newer, more reliable ones. Our panel did not address the broader issue of modernization in the ATC system.
We toured numerous FAA and NASA facilities, read documents, and applied our knowledge gained from research on human computer interaction in other domains such as the cockpit, the industrial or office workplace. And we formed a series of conclusions and recommendations outlined in our second report, which is, ''The Future of Air Traffic Control.''
These were formulated with the clear understanding of the technology that's on the horizon, satellite, navigation, data link, and so forth; the pressures for increased capacity; and the commitment to a fivefold decrease in accident rate over the next 10 years that was expressed in the Gore commission report. That is, automation must achieve safety enhancements.
A backdrop for considering our recommendations, the panel's careful evaluation and effort to define the concept of human-centered automation, which is offered in the written testimony. It represents a philosophy for human involvement with automation systems, as well as a prescription for a process of involving users in incorporating human factors expertise into the design of automated systems.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The following is a brief summary of our four most critical conclusions and recommendations. The justification and elaboration of these, as well as number of other conclusions and recommendations about specific systems, are detailed in my written testimony.
First, how far should automation go? We recommend high levels of automation for functions that collect, integrate, and display information to the controller. But for several reasons, we recommend that computers do not make decisions for the controller, but instead provide assistance in making decisions.
Our second recommendation concerns emergency recovery. Emergencies do inevitably happen, and the panel is concerned about a scenario in which the use of automated tools creates a densely packed airspace in an unexpected emergency develops requiring a much greater level of human involvement to recover when time is critical because the separation of aircraft is much smaller than in today's airspace. We need to understand much more about the characteristics of time delays of human response in such situations, and to ensure that the air traffic management system is designed so that controllers skills necessary for emergency recovery are not compromised.
Our third recommendation concerns the concept free flight which is an alternative vision of the national airspace operation to the ground-based automation that was the main focus of our panel. We assessed the ability of current models to predict the future safety implications of both free flight and a ground-based automation scenario in which most authority unambiguously resides in the control facilities. For a variety of reasons, we concluded that predictions of safety enhancement are easier to make with a ground-based automation scenario, and the extensive simulation research will be necessary before confidence can be gained as to the safety enhancement potential of free flight. Therefore, we recommend that until the safety of free flight is confidently demonstrated, authority should reside on the ground and the FAA should continue to pursue ground-based automation initiatives.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Our final recommendation concerns how the FAA should ensure human factors input to all stages of automation product development, from defining its functionality, to designing its software and interface, to product evaluation and testing, to controller training, to monitoring operational field experience. We believe that this input is necessary at all stages to ensure the application of human-centered automation to the next generation of air traffic control systems, in order to meet the constraints of capacity demand and safety enhancement. Thus we recommend that a centralized human factors office within the FAA should monitor the quality of human factors involvement in research, development and acquisition of all air traffic control products and systems.
Thank you very much, that concludes my testimony.
Mr. DUNCAN. I thank you very much, Mr. Wickens. Let me ask you this, you said that until the safety of free flight is confidently demonstrated, authority should reside on the ground and so forth. How close do you think we are to confidently demonstrating the safety of free flight? Do you think we're far from that or do you think that's not far off?
Mr. WICKENS. It would be difficult for me to give an estimate in terms of years. I know NASA in particular is engaged and their AATT program is looking very heavily at this. It is a longer ways away than the confidence in the safety enhancements of tools like conflict probes and the CTAS system. And I think that's the main thing, that relatively speaking, those tools have fewer uncertainties in how those tools will operate in the airspace than there are in how free flight will operate, and hence, a need for a lot more human-in-loop simulations studies to demonstrate free flight. I would not be able to give an estimate.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. DUNCAN. Fine. Do any of the others of you have any concerns about the safety aspects of free flight?
Mr. Fanfalone? Mr. McNally?
Mr. MCNALLY. Well, Mr. Chairman, I think we do have concerns about free flight, however, we think that it is the right way to go, it's just a matter of how we get there. I think the approach now is build a little, test a little, and don't go all in one massive effort to try to go to free flight tomorrow. I don't think we'll ever get to free flight, to be quite honest with you, sir. But I think building a little, testing a little, and then start to build on that as we learn I think is the right way to do it.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Fanfalone, you mentioned in your testimony that as recently as last November, that Congressman Wolf held a hearing, and the outcome of that hearing was the acknowledgment that the unions had been ignored. Do you feel that you're still being ignored or do you think that things are getting better in that regard?
Mr. FANFALONE. We've been an active player since the hearing, working with Administrator Garvey with regard to the human factors issues on STARS and DSR, we've got technical reps working on the HOST replacement, we're a player in the NAS modernization task force, we sit on the free flight steering committee. Administrator Garvey has really made it more than just inclusionary. She's also taken our advice in finding ways to apply it, so it's more than just providing advice and then being ignored. It's also being able to provide advice and that advice is being acted on.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Our problem is with the program office and the contractor in that we don't have a lot of confidence that the issues we raise are truly going to be addressed. We keep getting promised that in the next build, our issues will be handled. And when we looked at the next build, in fact, the issues are not addressed. There are still some 59 issues outstanding, just on STARS.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, it sounds like progress is being made. Of course, I guess you have to realize that none of us get our way on everything, not any Member of Congress, not Administrator Garvey, or anybody else.
Mr. McNally, I noticed in your testimony, you say that you're pleased with both the progress made with STARS and the new process, ''thanks at least in part to Administrator Garvey. The STARS project is the first and only project that has benefitted from the full and unlimited participation of air traffic controllers.''
So you seem to be pretty satisfied and pretty pleased. Tell me some of the ways that you think that the STARS project has been benefitting from the participation of the air traffic controllers.
Mr. MCNALLY. In anything that you design, you design it with the end-user in mind. In the previous attempts, naturally the controller was not brought on until the end which just creates all sorts of havoc out in the field in acceptance of the equipment, and major capacity and efficiency issues were identified. It's just good business sense. It just makes good business.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am pleased with what we've done, and I think what we've done with STARS is we've developed and defined a process not only for STARS, but for all modernization projects in the future, getting the user involved in the design and development, and ultimately the implementation stage. So, with Jane Garvey in control, I think I can have a lot of confidence that it's going to happen, at least during her tenure.
Mr. DUNCAN. How difficult is it to get your many thousands of members all on board as far as making changes that have to be made. In other words, all of us, I suppose it's human nature to be resistant to change in some respects. Most of us like, if possible, to keep doing things the way we've gotten used to doing them. Have you found problems in that regard with your membership?
Mr. MCNALLY. As it relates to the equipment?
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. MCNALLY. No, I think they recognize the fact that they need the equipment. It's better than having equipment breaking on them, so they realize they do need it. The major concerns that they have is thatthe irony of this isit is pretty ironic sometimeswe find ourselves fighting the FAA at times, and fighting those within the FAA to maintain the efficiency of the system on behalf of the carriers or users of the system. That's all we were trying to do with STARS. That's all we're trying to do with DSR. We're just saying, don't make our job harder. Don't make us less efficient, if you want the system to go the other way. And so, I think they're welcoming the change. And I think with our involvement, and the people we have involvement, they'll accept the final outcome.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Fanfalone, let me ask you, what effect does it have on your membership, or what does it mean to PASS technicians, when you change the amount of time that computer screens can malfunction from 3-minutes-per-year to 5-minutes-per-year? What difference does that make to your membership?
Mr. FANFALONE. I'm sorry, I didn't quite follow the question.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, I'm told by staff that when the FAA chose to alter its requirements so that air traffic controller computer screens can malfunction 5-minutes-per-year to 3-minutes-per-year. Does that make any difference to you and your membership?
Mr. FANFALONE. What's important to our membership is to uphold the integrity of the NAS. Even one minute's interruption is unacceptable to our folks.
We're mostly concerned with the use of external contractors and the fact that the experience has been that contracts are being let to where contractors have minimum 2 hour response time, and then are allowed up to 3 hours from then to still meet the contract and make restoration.
FAA's own data proves that with our folks on-site and the skills, outage restoration is consistently less than 2 hours. With that, the impact to us is there's a tendency to go external and bring in external contractors. We see that denigrating the integrity of the NAS, and we're opposed to it.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Ryan, in your conclusions, you say a risk assessment of the GPS-WAAS navigation system must be conducted as soon as possible by a joint FAA-industry team. Is that in the works?
Mr. RYAN. Well, at this very moment, people in ATA are considering that possibility and are venturing with FAA to do that and proving that successful, then I think we'll be over speaking with the FAA about how to go about that. But I have to tell you that the GPS risk assessment is absolutely vital and essential before FAA can make any decisions about decommissioning Nav-aids in the year 2005 as they're called for in the NAS 3.0 plan.
And this is the keystone of their plan to save $170 million a year in maintenance costs and $2.6 billion over the life-cycle of 20 years of replacing VORs, DMEs, ILSs, nondirectional beaconsthe whole basis for the current National Airspace System navigation.
The whole key to that is in using GPS satellite navigation and you cannot decommission these Nav-aids until you've assessed the risk. And with that analysis, you will then be able to make intelligent decisions about what the radionavigation system of the United States is going to look like in the 21st century. It just has to be done. They can't make any other decisions until they do that.
And as I said in my testimony, ATA is endorsing the President's commission on infrastructure that recommended that very same thing in October of 1997. So, we need to get on with it.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you very much. Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And again, thank you for your very kind words earlier. I'm very touched by your thoughtfulness.
Mr. Ryan, it's always good to have you at our committee hearings. You bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the task at hand. I'd like to depart just a bit from the subject at hand, of STARS, but still in the same vein of modernization.
The center TRACON automation system which you're familiar with, and the final approach sequencing tool, pFAST.
Mr. RYAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. OBERSTAR. They've been under test and pre-deployment operation at DFW for at least a couple of years. The objective is to improve approach control and speed up management in the terminal control area where the greatest congestion occurs and where you have the greatest problems, and big costs to carriers. The demand usually exceeds capacity during the arrival and departure banks.
I understand that both CTAS and pFAST at DFW have been deployed to improve departure and arrival times by as much as 2 minutes. That can translate into big savings for carriers. Can you comment on the status of testing and on whether, in your judgment, in your experience in the carrier community, these two systems are at the threshold of certification for deployment?
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. RYAN. Well, I'll answer the last question first. I don't think they're on the verge of certification and I wish I could say that they were. The Computer Science Corporation has a contract with FAA, and also Lincoln Lab has been hardening the CTAS code at DFW. And I cannot tell you what the status of that is at the moment, but I can tell you that it is not near completion. And unfortunately, CTAS is not near full-scale development
And if I draw your attention to the NAS 3.0 document, you will see that full-scale development is not due for passive-FAST until 2002. Now it's been playing at DFW, as you've said, for 2 or 3 years.
And, in fact, the NASA scientist came to me when I was at the FAA in 1988 to get date from Denver center so that he could go forward with his ideas about sequencing and spacing which later became CTAS.
Given that date, and given 2002, we're talking about 14 years that this has been in development at FAA. So, the airlines are very, very interested in CTAS, and they're interested in TMA, which is the Traffic Management Advisor that plays in the center, at Fort Worth Center.
And we're interested in passive-FAST, and we're also interested in the improvement beyond passive-Fast which is called active-FAST, which actually provides, to the controller, provides sequencing information with regards to vectors and speed to final approach course.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, just recently, as was talked about earlier today, Administrator Garvey put together a NAS modernization task force in November. They just had a meeting in January. And the result of that is that the MITRE Corporation made a proposal to accelerate the core technologies of which there are five, and of which CTAs is part of, move those forward as fast as possible.
And attached to my testimony is a recommendation as to where Traffic Management Advisor, passive-FAST, initial conflict probe, and the surface movement advisor, which is now playing at Atlanta, would be deployed and these are our suggestions to the FAA to do this within the next 4 years and that is called, Free Flight Phase I, and it's our core technologies.
Mr. OBERSTAR. We can explore this further. I don't think we can exhaust the subject in the course of this hearing, but that's a good beginning and I appreciate your assessment, and I'd like to spend a little time with you in another context to review this. It's important to highlight it here. And we'll get together and do that.
Mr. McNally, I know your members feel good that the FAA has moved into the human-technology interface phase of STARS and of DSR installation. But do you think that should've been moved up earlier in the process?
Mr. MCNALLY. Yes, sir, without a doubt. In fact, I believe it was my testimony before Congressman Wolf that kind of opened the Pandora's Box, so to speak, in the first place. It was abysmal. They were going down; they were going to fail. It was going to be a major failure again. STARS was going to be the failure.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC DSR, I think was saved as a result of some of the STARS activities. Had STARS not happened the way it did, DSR was also going downhill rather fast as well, going to be rejected by the workforce, slow the system down, safety implicationsI mean, it was not going right.
I think the FAA has learned a very valuable lesson in terms of getting employees who are going to utilize the tools involved in a process at the beginning. It just makes good sense. It's good design. I'm an engineer, but I haven't exercised my degree, but the bottom line is, you get the people in the room who can share in all aspects of the design to implementation. That's just what you do.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Early on, this technology was engineer-driven rather than user-driven.
Mr. MCNALLY. That's right. The car come out with a seat capable for a horse to sit in instead of a human being. I mean, that's where we were going.
Mr. OBERSTAR. One of our sessions out at Germantown with FAA and IBM, then the federal systems division of IBM which was managing the then-AAS, now-DSR, a demonstrator for IBM calmly, cooly told us that this is now problem. With 57 keystrokes, a controller can send a message to the flight deck in his or her sector of the en route center.
I was astonished as were other members of our subcommittee and our committee staff. Fifty-seven keystrokes, times 27 aircraft, times how many movements that aircraft is going to make through that sector. That added up to thousands of keystrokes.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
How can you do that? And they said, well, we do it right here in the lab.
Well, you're not controlling aircraft. You're sitting here in this sanitized environment exercising an engineering function. Bring a controller in here. Put real people up there, move them at 10-miles-a-minute, and see how many keystrokes you have to make and how you feel at the endyou'd be perspiring right through all your clothes.
It was crazy. They weren't bringing controllers into the picture early enough in the process. That was IBM. That was FAA then. I want to say again, thanks to Jane Garvey, we've moved passed that of being engineering-driven to being people-driven.
You're on the human factors working group. Do you feel that you have in place a process now to filter these kinds of problems out, and to fix requirements, and to keep it on track?
Mr. MCNALLY. Yes, we do. The process is in place, it is working. Naturally, now we just have tofunding and timing is always the consideration in terms of what fixes may go in and what fixes may not go in.
Mr. OBERSTAR. There was another counter complaint. There's a complaint of the controllers against FAA and now Raytheon. But there's a counter complaint that your members are rejecting the advances of technology and the advanced in the computer age in favor of old, familiar habits that controllers are comfortable with, like the recessed display instead of the quirky, and the substitution of the track ball, and substituting the screen, and keyboard-driven messages, and borders and windows and opaque windows, and all that stuff.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Now's your chance to say what you want to say about that counter claim.
Mr. MCNALLY. They just don't understand. So that's the bottom line. They don't understand the art of air traffic control. They don't understand how the human mind interacts with the displays in order to make decisions in split-second fashion, and if the system that you're relying upon is labor-intensive and slowing you down, you can't make those decisions as fast as you used to.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Raytheon will say that the new people that are coming on board, that are now being recruited, and that they're engaging in their laboratories, are the Nintendo generation and that they are more modern than the Atari generation and that you are denying a technology to hold back a new generation of computer nerds. You disagree?
Mr. MCNALLY. I disagree totally. And I invite them to come out to an air traffic control facility and I'll show them exactly why.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Can the working group work those kinds of problems out?
Mr. MCNALLY. Yes, sir.
Mr. OBERSTAR. This is silly, frankly, pointing fingers at each other.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. MCNALLY. It's working very well right now.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Fanfalone, a wonderful Italian name; it should be pronounced in a good Italian fashion.
Mr. FANFALONE. Thank you.
Mr. OBERSTAR. You have concern about contracting out, and that's kind of a big issue in government today, a policy issue. But the seriousness of contracting out is that when a system goes down at 2:00 in the morning and you have to call the contractor and you have to wait, maybe for that person to arrive, and maybe the job is beyond the description of the contract. And in the interim, you don't have anyone on-site who is familiar enough with the technology enough to hands-on do it him or herself. You've got a problem.
But if that happens during one of the departure banks early in the day, the whole system has a problem.
Now, how many members do you have? What, about 8,000 or 9,000? I mean the specialists, not the others who are in PASS, but the
Mr. FANFALONE. We have nearly 6,000 hands-on technology folks.
Mr. OBERSTAR. With all these systems coming onboard, DSR, STARS, and CTAS, pFAST and VSCS, do you have enough people to maintain those systems?
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. FANFALONE. I believe there are enough within the airway facilities, not necessarily assigned to the right jobs at the moment. There's approximately a 40 percent overhead in the airway facilities.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Are these issues that you are raising in the human factors working group?
Mr. FANFALONE. No, these are system-wide kinds of issues that we're trying to work with airway facilities with.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Okay. Well, there are numbers of other questions I'd like to ask, I know time is running down, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to submit a number of questions to the witnesses to respond to the committee.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Certainly that would be very fine and appropriate. Mr. Blunt.
Mr. BLUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize for not being here for a lot of the testimony, and I don't want you to repeat a lot of the things you've already done, and at the same time, I've only got 5 minutes, so you can't repeat a whole lot of it in 5 minutes.
Mr. Wickens, an earlier review of your testimony indicated that you were essentially saying that you thought that free flight might be too dangerous to implement. Is that a fair analysis of that? You've got about a minute to tell me the answer to that.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. WICKENS. No, I don't think that's a totally accurate depiction. What we felt is at the current time, if we want to make projections of the worst case of safety, we can better make those projections on the basis of a system that relies heavily on the ground-based automation, and much of the infrastructure that supports free flight. But there are too many uncertainties in the free flight to confidently project that there will be a decrease in accident rate as a result of that, or an increase in safety.
It may very well be the case, but there is a great deal much more research and development that needs to take place in terms of examining how pilots will negotiate conflicts between each other, as an example. And this is the sort of research program that's ongoing at NASA right now, and I think that what we're doing is endorsing a lot more of that developmental research effort to understand how pilots might negotiate conflicts and involve air traffic controllers in that negotiation before a commitment is made that the airspace should be going.
Mr. BLUNT. So with that in mind, do you see transition as particularly hazardous? How do you figure out how all that's going to work before you actually fully implement?
Mr. WICKENS. Well, yes, we do see transition as hazardous and that's the basis for our recommendation that whatever the system is, controllers need to maintain a lot of authority on the ground.
The worst case scenario is the one where two pilots in a free flight situation, find themselves in a conflict that they really can't negotiate and are suddenly calling on the controller to untangle. The controller is going to have to assume authority, in that case, and may have to do so in an airspace that's now much more complex and much more densely packed because free flight has created the sort of increase in capacity that it was designed to do in the first place.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We just need to know a lot more about how the system can untangle from that situation before we can confidently say that free flight will represent an enhanced safety.
At the same time, the goals, the needs for the free flight concept, the demands on the system for increased capacity. But we think that there are ways of doing that that capitalize on ground-based automation, such as the CTAS system, which we very firmly endorse, conflict probes, other sorts of ground-based automation.
Mr. BLUNT. Anybody else want to comment on either than answer or the question? Mr. Ryan?
Mr. RYAN. Yes, sir. Thank you, Congressman Blunt.
I'm not sure whether Mr. Wickens misunderstands what the precepts of free flight are, or they've been misrepresented to him. As I understand what he said, he's worrying about whether two airplanes that are free flying would be unable to negotiate a separation, assuming that they were both in conflict.
Now, one of the precepts of free flight that was established by Task Force 3 and RTCA and adopted by FAA, is that number one, the air traffic control infrastructure always, always, always in charge. Even if two aircraft are free flying which means that they can maneuver within some envelope, change altituderules yet to be establishedchange altitude 2,000 feet up, 2,000 feet down, turn 20 degrees right or left to avoid a build up.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The consequent conflict that may result as a result of those two airplanes making that change that would put them in conflict has to be resolved by the air traffic controller, unless he assigns the separation maneuver to the two pilots and they agree to assume it. So, at all times, air traffic control is in charge, at all times.
Now, the maneuvers and scenarios that one might develop involving two aircraft where the controller might deem it appropriate or efficient to allow the two aircraft to do their own maneuvering have not yet been developed, and need to be developed.
So based on that, I'll just stop there, as a clarification of what I understand what one of the designers is what free flight is. It's the way I understand it. And the most important precept, not always understood by many, is that air traffic control is always in charge.
Mr. BLUNT. And what do you see as the regime for developing that new set of relationships?
Mr. RYAN. Well, certainly there are a number of analyses and modeling requests that were made to FAA in 1996 as a result of the this Task Force 3, and one of them was a cost-benefit study that one would do to decide if aircraft could free fly, using the precepts laid down, if in fact that's more efficient, how many conflicts could one contemplate in that scenario vis-a-vis today, and if in fact, is it a worthwhile project to pursue.
Task Force 3 tried to push the envelope in saying, give the pilots more freedom, but always have the controllers watch them. That intuitively looks like a good thing from an efficiency and capacity standpoint, but at no time does anybody ever want to lessen safety and certainly, as Mr. Wickens said, the transition to free flight may be hazardous. Well, if the transition to free flight were hazardous, we wouldn't make the transition.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BLUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Blunt.
Just a couple more questions.
Mr. Wickens, you mention in your second recommendation concerning emergency recovery that with the technology improvements we may see more planes in a more densely packed airspace and going to more and more automation gives the air traffic controllers, makes them less effective in case an intervention is needed. And you say research is necessary to understand much more about the characteristics and time delays of human response in such situations, and so forth.
Is that research going on now? And if not, why not? And what type of research needs to be done?
Mr. WICKENS. I should qualify the statement, and this is human-centered automation, progressing to greater levels of human-centered automation with efforts of keeping controllers in the loop, such as the CTAS system, will probably not invite the sorts of concerns that we addressed in that second recommendation. The concerns were addressed to automation systems that really would be receiving decisions from the controllers and having those made my automation systems them self.
There is some research going on on the psychological response, the response time to emergencies with individual operators. What we find is that a lot times those responses are extremely slow when events happen that people just do not expect under any circumstances. And the irony is, with very high levels of automation, they will work perfectly for a year before something might fail. And the operators assume that they will go on fail-safe. And then when there is a failure, there is potentially a very long response time under a worst-case situation.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And we really need to be developing our concepts for the future of the National Airspace System on the basis of what may be the worst case situations, with the longest possible estimated response times, only because these are very unlikely, unusual circumstances, but they're the ones that invite potential catastrophe.
Mr. DUNCAN. Are air traffic controllers being given enough training for emergency or panic type situations at the present time, in your opinion?
Mr. WICKENS. I don't feel I can comment on that at this time. We did not look explicitly at air traffic controller training for emergencies. I think maybe I should defer that to our NATCA representative.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right.
Mr. WICKENS. But whether they are or not, that is an important aspect of training, certainly, to deal with system recovery, if there are unexpected occurrences.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. One last question. Mr. Ryan, you have in your testimony that recent information indicates that life-cycle for WAAS have increased 25 percent from $2.4 billion to $3 billion in 3 months.
Mr. RYAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. DUNCAN. That's an almost unbelievable increase in a 3-month time period. I assume that you feel that's an accurate statement, and why has that happened? What's caused that?
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. RYAN. Well, I can tell you what the FAA believes is why, I can't tell you why I think it's $3 billion. FAA claims that they're going to need between 2 and 4 new satellites to give 100 percent coverage over the United States. They don't know how many that is, and they also claim that they underestimated the software task and when Mr. Donahue was here on October 1, and I was here, the life-cycle cost of WAAS was $2.4 million. And in the report to Congress in January, as was required by the appropriations legislation, it was over $3 billion.
And I got it down to two things I read in their report. You would have to ask them more about the details, sir.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, you sound pretty skeptical about the benefits.
Mr. WICKENS. Well, I think that as we said back in October, first of all, we think WAAS is a good thing. But WAAS is not a good thing at any cost. And now the cost has gone up 25 percent since the last time we spoke on this subject. And with this problem with interference and jamming to GPS signals, to the 2001 solar flare problem, we have to have the risk assessment to decide how we're going to proceed.
So, I believe that more now than even last October, and the term I used then was a timeout. Not the end of the game, but a timeout where we don't go and sign the Phase II contract which is scheduled for April 2 of this year, where FAA and industry can get togther and exchange information, totally, tell us their problems. And then decide what the future of WAAS will be.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
After all, WAAS is for the users of the system, and they need to discuss this problem with the users of the system before of they invest any more of the taxpayers money. It's just unbounded. I don't know that 3 months from nowit may go up another 20 percent.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, I hope not. It sounds like a good recommendation that you're making because you say it appears to be suffering from unbounded cost growth and potential operational benefits are eroding, and that's a pretty strong statement when coupled with the other things that you have in there.
All right, well, gentlemen, thank you very much. Your testimonies have been very interesting and helpful, and we appreciate very much your taking time out from what I know are very busy schedules to be here with us today.
That will conclude this hearing.
[Whereupon, at 12:32 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]