En Route Automation System: Major Step in Upgrading the 1960's Radar System
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
New interface of the upgraded ERAM D position, which was presented to engineers and various aviation representatives on Nov. 4
On Nov. 4 in Rockville, Md., Lockheed Martin showed off a significant step to upgrading America’s ATC system. NATCA members and FAA leadership viewed a demonstration of the D-Position Upgrade, which is intended to increase the efficiency of the NAS and improve controller productivity. The D-Position Upgrade is being developed as part of the Enroute Automation Modernization (ERAM) effort for the nation’s enroute control centers. The demo was a joint presentation by Lockheed Martin and the ERAM CHI team.
Mike Tarka, a Lockheed engineer, demoed the new equipment for representatives from NATCA, Lockheed and the FAA. Tarka said these upgrades to the interface will allow controllers to sift through critical aircraft flight data more quickly, giving them better real-time information all in one place as opposed to being scattered across numerous monitors.
“A lack of technology used to be the problem,” Tarka said. “Now, if anything, the issue will be if a controller can process all the information at once. But we have made it much easier for them.”
Steve Anderson, an FAA manager, said the ERAM upgrade will allow controllers to stay focused on one screen at a time. “As it is now, controllers constantly have to go back and forth to get spacing information, landing times, flight info,” he said.
Ray Spickler, NATCA’s first executive vice president and current member of the ERAM CHI team, added that upgrades to the radar system would allow the FAA and NATCA to better recruit and train new employees. With nearly two-thirds of the workforce set to retire in the next decade, Spickler said the upgraded system would help to ensure that the future workforce is able to provide efficiency and safety for air travelers.
“This is a much easier system to train on, which is the design,” Spickler said. “Since we are going to have to train so many people soon, we really are doing ourselves a favor by making the learning curve flatter.”
Jim Ullmann, NATCA’s vice president for the Northwest Mountain region, said the upgrade and demo was a testament to hard work and collaboration by developers and the union. Ullmann said the ERAM upgrade process shows that NATCA will play a huge role in helping to leverage advanced technology in the NAS, and, in turn, deliver safer system for the millions who fly every week across American airspace.
“When we have input through the whole process, you see great changes like this,” Ullmann said. “Our experts at NATCA and the Lockheed development team continue to do fantastic work together.” He added that the program will likely not be implemented across the board until 2016, chalking that up to the significant resources that will be required to implement the new equipment nationally.
Steve Anderson of the FAA explains features of the new ERAM system at a demonstration in Rockville, Md.
Mike Tarka points out aspects of the D Position Upgrade monitor and display.