DOT Inspector General Auditing FAA's Work on ERAM Outages

FAA declared ERAM fully operational at all 20 en route air traffic control facilities in March 2015, but since then, the $2.7 billion system has experienced a number of outages, most recently at the Washington Center in August 2015, that resulted in delays and cancellations of hundreds of flights, affecting thousands of passengers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Inspector General's office is beginning an audit of the Federal Aviation Administration's actions to address recent outages of the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) system. FAA declared ERAM fully operational at all 20 en route air traffic control facilities in March 2015, but since then, the $2.7 billion system has experienced a number of outages, most recently at the Washington Center in August 2015, that resulted in delays and cancellations of hundreds of flights, affecting thousands of passengers, according to the office's announcement, which said the audit will begin within a few weeks.

ERAM is a program that replaced aging air traffic control hardware and software at facilities that manage high-altitude aviation traffic. ERAM is expected to provide the infrastructure for a range of new capabilities associated with the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), such as enabling the use of satellite-based systems for navigation and surveillance, as well as data link communications for controllers and pilots.

The audit is commencing at the request of the chairmen and ranking members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Aviation Subcommittee and the chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the IG letter announcing the audit states.

Its objectives will be to determine the causes of the outages, assess FAA's actions to address problems it has discovered, determine whether trade-offs were made to ERAM's original design requirements to meet revised implementation schedules, and assess the delivery of new NextGen capabilities.

The letter to FAA came from Charles A. Ward, assistant inspector general for aviation audits.

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