Federal Aviation Administration and Ada
SIGAda 2007
Federal Aviation Administration and Ada

Jeff O'Leary


The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) depends upon large, complex and highly available software systems to manage the vast commercial and civil aviation network and to carry out the agency’s mission of ensuring high capacity, efficient and extremely safe air travel for the flying public. The FAA’s Tower domain provides air traffic control services in the airport environment. There are more than 500 FAA managed Towers. The Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) domain provides air traffic control services in the terminal environment where aircraft are climbing or descending. There are 197 TRACONs. The En Route domain provides air traffic control services typically above 10,000 feet between departure and arrival domains where aircraft achieve their optimal cruise altitude. There are only 21 En Route centers, so each must provide coverage to very large areas

<---Tower---><-Terminal-><--------- En Route ---------><-Terminal-><-----------Tower----------->

U.S. Air Traffic Control Domains

Ada has become a strategic technology in developing and sustaining systems that require high availability and high reliability. The FAA Air Traffic Organization’s (ATO) major recent initiative, the En-Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) program goes a long way to reintegrating many disparate system components into a modern composite architecture. This program leverages and significantly expands upon previous Ada based systems, so the FAA has a vital interest in Ada language technology now and for the foreseeable future.

Mr. O’Leary will present a federal customer’s perspective on systems development and quality, with emphasis on higher reliability, security, and safety. Ada is exceptionally well positioned to support these characteristics, and that is why many current large FAA ATC systems are largely or significantly Ada based. He will touch on past Ada based systems that FAA fielded, the current major ERAM effort, and also where FAA is going in the future with the Next Generation Air Traffic System (NGATS). He will give some insights on what the language and development technologies can contribute towards facilitating the vision of our future.

FAA depends on the use of DO-178B (Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification) as a means of certifying software in avionics use in aircraft systems. Ada performs very well in DO-178B developments.

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last updated 3 November 2007 - cgr