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1998-02-11 00:05:17


FAA Administrator Describes the Enormous Task



Jane Garvey is the FAA's Administrator.

Here is her testimony before the Committee on Science, Subcommittee on Technology, and the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Subcommittee on Management, Information , and Technology (Feb. 4, 1998).

She admits that the FAA has done a poor job so far. But she does what any government administrator does in this siutuation: she guarantees success. And like similar testimony in other situations, she does not supply compelling evidence for her confidence.

* * * * * * *

The question on everyone's mind -- and certainly the question on my mind when I arrived at the FAA last August -- is: will the FAA make it? Can we ensure that air traffic safety is not compromised in the slightest at 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2000? And the answer to that question is yes. Aviation safety will not be compromised. Ensuring that we meet this challenge is one of my top priorities. I have been meeting with my managers and the key FAA personnel involved in the Year 2000 compliance effort frequently since I became Administrator. I know from these meetings, and from the work that the Inspector General and General Accounting Office have done, that FAA needs to do a better job of managing this problem. We are behind, and that is unacceptable. Let me tell you what actions I have underway to correct that. . . .

The components that make up the NAS architecture are comprised of more than 23 million lines of code, 50 computer languages, and more than 250 computer systems. The Y2K problem can affect NAS systems in a variety of ways. Software, hardware or embedded code in NAS systems can be date-sensitive.

For example, let's look at a Y2K problem we have identified with our en route surveillance radar. Each of our 20 air traffic control centers has en route surveillance radar equipment, or ARSR, that monitors en route traffic in the system. The ARSR has a cooling pump system that turns on automatically to prevent the system from overheating. The computer code that initiates the cooling system is date-dependent and therefore affected by Y2K. If the code is not Y2K compliant, the cooling system will not turn on at the correct day and time, and the ARSR could overheat and shut down. If this were to happen, air traffic controllers would have to monitor and separate aircraft the old-fashioned way, by altitude and time. This would slow down the system while air traffic is either re-routed or deliberately delayed to maintain safety. Obviously, our goal is to ensure that these problems, and the delays that could result, do not happen. . . .

I want the FAA to succeed. I am keeping a close eye on the management of this program to ensure we get the job done.As I said at the beginning of my testimony, the question on everyone's mind is, can we make it? And my answer is yes. It will take perseverance, persistence, vigilance, and continuity of commitment. . . .


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