FAA Wants Airport Data Transition Plans by Dec. 15

ACI-NA Memo: Nov. 30

A Dec. 15 deadline has been set by the FAA for those airports receiving National Airspace System air traffic data via direct connections to file a transition plan with the agency. In this case, an informal plan -- even an e-mail -- will work.

Issue:  The FAA will no longer permit airports to obtain radar data directly from their local air traffic control facilities. Airports will need to obtain this data from new FAA-approved data sources.

Who is impacted:  All airports that obtain NAS data directly from their local air traffic control facilities will be affected by these changes.  These data include airport surveillance radar (ASR) data, airport surface detection equipment (ASDE) data, and flight data input/output (FDIO).

Most often, the data is used to feed noise and operations monitoring systems or surface management systems. They are also used by some airports for airline billing and ramp control purposes.

Airport are not impacted if they obtain this data via secure FAA gateways, such as the FAA NAS Enterprise Security Gateway, approved third party vendors, (e.g., ITT/Exelis, Flight Explorer, etc.), or acquire the data via a non-FAA source (e.g., PASSUR, airport-owned multilateration system).

What is ACI-NA Doing:  In addition to an Oct. 18 webinar and subsequent conversations with the FAA, ACI-NA has been working to better understand issues associated with NAS data distribution.

ACI-NA will also be discussing the AIP eligibility of data acquisition costs with FAA Office of Airports staff in the coming weeks.

Needed Airport Action:  In the event your data feeds are affected by these policies, you should begin preparing a transition plan. ACI-NA encourages you to contact the ATO Service Center contacts listed above to discuss your data and FAA’s revised data distribution policies (unless you’ve been contacted by them already).

We’d also appreciate it if you could share your experiences with these policies with us. We’re specifically interested in the alternate data source you plan to use, when you plan to transition to this new source, the magnitude of additional costs associated with the new source, and whether you’ve explored using AIP funding to offset these costs.

Current Developments:  While the FAA has not set a firm transition timeline for airports to obtain this data from other sources, it has requested a transition plan by the Dec. 15 deadline.

Mandatory elements of the plan:

  • The estimated date when the airport will be able to shift a direct feed to a gateway feed (ex. ITT/Excelis’ NextGen Surveillance Data) or alternative data source (ex., PASSUR’s radar data feed).
  • Extenuating circumstances that could impact transition (for example, ongoing NOMS system procurement processes, expiry of existing data transfer agreements, budget or contractual issues)
  • NAS data access needed during the transition period (ex., the airport needs continued direct access to ASR and ASDE-X data until the data transition can be completed)
  • Airport contact information for in the event FAA needs additional information.

These transition plans should be coordinated with the following points of contact at the FAA ATO’s Regional Service Centers:

· Eastern Service Area
Don Roberts, don.a.roberts@faa.gov

· Central Service Area
Trish Autry, trish.autry@faa.gov

· Western Service Area
Larry Crowley, larry.crowley@faa.gov

Data Replacement Options

ACI-NA does not have complete information regarding all of the options available to replace direct connect data feeds.  All five sources entail data subscription, transmission/distribution, and/or capital costs of some magnitude. Of these five sources, we understand that only the first three provide data that are suitable for noise monitoring purposes and other high-fidelity flight tracking applications.

  • ITT/Exelis’ NextGen Surveillance Data
  • PASSUR’s FlightSuretm Data
  • Airport or third-party operated multilateration system
  • FAA ASDE-X data feed from the NESG
  • FAA Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI) data from the NESG

Although not provided currently, ACI-NA believes that it would be possible for the FAA to offer an ASR data feed via the NESG in much the same way that ASDI and ASDE-X data are currently provided.  ACI-NA will be checking with FAA to determine this feasibility. If such a solution is possible, we believe that airports seeking to utilize these data would need to provide secure means for its transmission from the NESG to the airport’s NOMS.

Regulatory Reference:  FAA Order 1200.22E, External Requests for National Airspace System (NAS) Data.

Background: These policies were discussed during an ACI-NA webinar on Oct. 18. After the webinar, a list of questions was been presented to the FAA’s Data Management Directorate and the FAA has promised answers by the end of November.

As stated in Order 1200.22E, “All current NAS data connections releasing data to non-FAA entities should be transitioned as soon as possible to gateways.”  Gateways are further defined as, “approved, secure, and controlled connections consistent with the latest National Institute of Standards and Technology standards.”

In essence, under these policies, airports will not be able to obtain radar data directly from their local air traffic control facilities—most typically Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities.

Impact on Airports:  ACI-NA members have expressed serious concerns regarding the timeline, the reliability and completeness of these new data sources, and the costs associated with obtaining data from these sources.

ACI-NA Contacts: Chris Oswald or Katherine Preston