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Inside the Fence - Article
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Inside the Fence

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Intercom - 11/98-6/05

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The I²F L

By Jason McGlynn

The Integration and Interoperability Facility (I²F) is an ISO 9001:2000 certified En Route laboratory that explores issues associated with modernizing the National Airspace System (NAS) En Route infrastructure. It is available to government and industry organizations that support the emerging NAS architecture. The mission of the I²F is to find cost-effective solutions by investigating cutting edge technologies and methodologies that promote safety, increase capacity, and support the efficiency goals of the NAS.

The I²F contains a full En Route system that simultaneously supports multiple NAS projects in various stages of development. It has fully functional Host, Display System Replacement (DSR), and En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) configurations, as well as multiple simulators and tools. While the I²F is in a remote location, it interfaces with laboratories in the main building to support interfacility testing. The I²F provides engineering services and lab operations support to its customers.

Lately, the I²F has had some significant accomplishments in voice communication technology in support of various En Route training programs. Originally, the I²F staff developed a system to emulate the existing En Route Voice Switching and Communication System (VSCS) to improve the fidelity of Air Traffic Control simulations and studies in the I²F laboratory. Since then, the staff has modified and expanded this system to support the training needs of the ATO’s 10-Year Controller Staffing Plan.

When a need arose for a voice communication system to complement the Initial Academy Training System program at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, the I²F met the challenge. The team integrated state-of-the art technology with custom hardware and software to minimize development time. The system was designed, developed, and tested within eight months and became operational in three En Route training laboratories in April 2005. It is a nonproprietary, high fidelity, flexible, extensible, and inexpensive system. In comparison to cost estimates received from private industry for system development, producing this system in-house saved several million dollars. Due to its success, the Aeronautical Center later requested a similar system to support their Terminal training laboratories. The Academy Enhanced Terminal Voice System is now installed in two of the Academy’s Terminal training laboratories. The I²F Team provided 2nd-level maintenance until April 2006 for both systems.

Next, a program was approved to provide an En Route Training Simulation System (ERTSS) to four sites that had a critical need to effectively manage the backlog of student trainees. The I²F and the Aeronautical Center teamed up to develop ERTSS. The I²F provided the voice communication tool and the Aeronautical Center provided the automation tools. ERTSS is installed in Miami, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, and Leesburg Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs). Since the program was completed under cost, two additional sites were added - Atlanta and Jacksonville ARTCCs will be receiving ERTSS in December 2007. The I²F Team also provided operational and maintenance training at the sites.

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