Murray and FAA Administrator Announce Contract to Develop New Air Traffic Security System

Jul 18 2002

Boeing will explore and develop next generation system to improve security and safety for the FAA

(Washington, D.C.) - Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, and Boeing officials announced federal funding to enhance the capacity, efficiency, security and safety of America's skies.

Sen. Murray provided $25 million in last year's supplemental appropriations bill to begin developing a space-based communication, navigation and surveillance system.

The system will feature an integrated and secure common information network and allow broadband communication between aircraft, air traffic controllers and security personnel. The system would allow air traffic controllers to see not only where an aircraft is, but where it should be.

Senator Murray's Remarks Follow:

I would like to extend a special thanks to Jane Garvey, who has not only been a model of effective public service, but also a tireless advocate for safety in our skies. She has been the longest-serving Administrator of the FAA, and we will miss her leadership when her term ends next month.

After the tragedies of September 11th, Administrator Garvey worked around the clock to make sure that every plane landed safely and that we could open our skies as quickly and safely as possible.

In response to September 11th, the federal government has taken a number of steps to improve safety and tighten security across the country. We are investing billions of dollars at airports, seaports, buildings and borders to bolster our security.

Today, we are announcing a contract to help improve safety and security in our skies. Last year, I appropriated $25 million in the DoD Appropriations bill to begin developing a satellite-based communications system to integrate a secure, broadband capability. This funding will help develop a new system to give air traffic controllers a lot more information about what is going on in an airplane.

Today, radar can tell us where planes are in the sky, but not where they are going, or where they should be in the future. Today, we can't tell whether a plane is deviating from its flight plan as quickly as we would like.

But with this new system, air traffic controllers will know - in real time - of any changes in the flight pattern. If a pilot has to respond to bad weather, to an onboard threat, or to another unforeseen challenge, air traffic controllers on the ground will know immediately. This technology will provide a more robust, more comprehensive system to allow controllers to respond more rapidly to changing events.

It would also allow the transfer of more information - like video of the cabin - to give controllers better situational awareness of what's going on in an airplane.

With significant growth projected in airline travel over the next 20 years, there will be many more airplanes in our skies. To accommodate this increased traffic, we must improve and upgrade our system. The contract we are announcing today is the first step.

The technology will improve safety and security for the flying public by giving air traffic controllers more information about what is going on in our skies.

I would like to again thank Administrator Garvey for her great service to the FAA, and for having the vision to begin upgrading our nation's Air Traffic Control System.