FAA Accepts FTI Outage Review Panel Recommendations <


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FAA Accepts FTI Outage Review Panel Recommendations

By Bill Goldston

April 20, 2010 - The Federal Aviation Administration announced today that it is accepting the recommendations and findings of the independent review panel assigned to investigate last November's telecommunications outage.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt asked the panel to examine the cause of the FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) outage and the architecture and management of the network. He also asked the panel to recommend strategies to reduce the potential for similar future outages.

On the morning of November 19, 2009 the FTI experienced an outage that resulted in system-wide delays. During the four-hour event, air traffic controllers managed flight plan data manually and safely according to FAA contingency plans. Air traffic control radar and communication were not affected during that time and critical safety systems remained up and running.

The FTI system operates 24 hours a day seven days a week and provides communication support for the National Airspace System. Harris Corporation operates and maintains the FTI for the FAA.

The panel confirmed the FAA's preliminary assessment that the November outage was caused by a series of errors in network maintenance and monitoring during a telecommunications upgrade.

Even though the upgrade associated with the outage is complete, the review panel made a number of recommendations to reduce the likelihood of a similar outage and to improve the FAA's response to any future network interruptions. The FAA is accepting and already begun to carry out the following recommendations:

- Use of new automated tools for making configuration changes to network devices.

- Undertake a comprehensive review of operations and maintenance checklists from a human factors perspective to address the possibility for errors.

- Assess the FTI workforce staffing to make sure adequate levels of network technical staff are available at all times.


The FAA is reviewing the best way to put them into practice. Those recommendations include: 

- Develop an integrated end-to-end situational awareness of the FTI network, the associated Local Area Network infrastructure, and end user applications.  

- Establish the capability to assess and report the overall impact of network and application service outages on the National Airspace System.  

- Provide an alternate means for the entry of flight plan information to limit the impact of telecommunications network failures on the flight plan entry system.  

"We will work over the coming months to turn the panel's recommendations into action," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "The outage last November was unacceptable. These recommendations will help us put the necessary safeguards in place to prevent similar events from happening again." said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. 

The review panel is currently working on its second report which will examine the FTI's present and future architecture as it relates to emerging technology and future FAA systems. 

The panel is made up of the following participants: FAA Chief Information Officer David Bowen; Assistant to the President and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra; Department of Transportation Chief Information Officer Nitin Pradhan; Noblis CEO Amr Elsawy; former Director of Command, Control, Communications, and Computer Systems Vice Admiral (Ret) Nancy Brown; FAA Air Traffic Organization (ATO) CIO Steve Cooper; and FAA Assistant Chief Counsel for Acquisition and Commercial Law Patricia McNall.
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