NEWSCLIP-1999-09-30: FAA Taps Lockheed Martin for Conflict Probe Deployment

Press Release – For Immediate Release

Release No. APA 95-99
September 30, 1999
Contact: Les Dorr, Jr.
Phone: 202-267-8521

WASHINGTON, DC — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has chosen Lockheed Martin to field the initial stage of a critical technology that will help pave the way for eventual implementation of the revolutionary air traffic management concept called “Free Flight.”

Under a $200 million modification to the company’s existing contract for the FAA’s Display System Replacement (DSR) program, Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management, Rockville, Md., will continue to develop and deploy the User Request Evaluation Tool (URET). URET, also called a “conflict probe,” is a powerful software tool that gives controllers a 20-minute strategic, look-ahead capability to detect potential conflicts when considering pilots’ requests for altitude and route changes.

“This agreement emphasizes the FAA’s intent to increase the pace of National Airspace System modernization. It indicates our strong support of the aviation community’s consensus agreement for deploying new capabilities that will provide early user benefits,” said FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey.

URET will be deployed to seven FAA air route traffic control centers that handle aircraft flying at higher altitudes: Memphis, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Cleveland, Washington, Chicago and Atlanta. The contract modification contains incentives for early delivery by Lockheed Martin. It also incorporates strong cost control provisions and establishes a price ceiling. The agreement covers the period from now through fiscal year 2004. The system will be deployed and available to controllers in late 2001 through 2002.

The FAA chose to modify the DSR contract and use Lockheed Martin because URET will be highly integrated with the DSR consoles now being deployed at FAA en route centers around the country. The FAA had previously structured the DSR contract to accommodate such future upgrades.

Development of URET has been a collaborative effort between the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). Controllers have been involved in work on design, human factors and procedures since URET prototypes were delivered to Indianapolis Center in 1996 and Memphis Center in 1997. This collaboration insures that controllers will have an operational decision support tool that will produce benefits for users of some of the nation’s busiest airspace.

URET is an important part of the FAA’s Free Flight Phase 1 program to bring concrete benefits to U.S. airspace users by the end of 2002. Site selection was done through a consensus with industry to make sure that stakeholders had a voice in determining the initial airspace where benefits from URET would first be realized.

Ultimately, conflict probe technology such as URET will be an essential component of the FAA’s air traffic management operations in a “Free Flight” environment. Under Free Flight, pilots will collaborate closely with controllers to choose the most efficient routes, speeds and altitudes for the conditions existing at the time.


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