Yesterday, I had an eye-opening visit to the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, NJ. I'll have more later today on the town hall session I had with FAA employees. But right now, I'm excited to tell readers about a recently completed project by an FAA Air Traffic Organization team that saved American taxpayers anywhere from $52 million to $203 million on a new data sharing system. This is a great example of motivated and talented civil servants delivering extraordinary value.
Previously, the FAA used a National Airspace Data Interchange Network (NADIN) to exchange critical information like flight plan data, oceanic position reports, weather forecasts and observations, Notices to Airmen, and flight safety-related message traffic.
Customers of this network include: FAA National Airspace System, Department of Interior, National Weather Service, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, commercial airlines, the general aviation community, and airline data service providers. The network is a significant part of the global International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunications Network of 245 communications centers in 189 countries and 26 international AFTN communication centers around the world.
As you can imagine, a lot rides on the smooth exchange of this information.
Estimates from outside contractors to replace the system ranged from $90-$240 million over a 10-year service life. The decision to in-source the effort was based on best cost, technical approach and least risk.
The AJW-17 team, led by Andy Isaksen, replaced the system for just over $10 million, with an estimated 10-year service life cost of $38 million. This in-sourcing effort to create the new NADIN Message Switch Rehost (NMR) resulted in a cost savings to the FAA between $52 and $203 million.
This was no simple effort. The replacement process required seamless migration of over 2,000 domestic and international users to the new system. The in-house team had to be responsible for all phases of the project development lifecycle--from requirements definition through design, software development, hardware integration, documentation, test & evaluation, deployment, and training.
To complicate matters, midway through the development, a key messaging system became unsupportable, and the AJW-17 team had to add replacement of that system to its list of requirements. They accomplished this additional burden without any delay in the NMR's completion!
This critical achievement can be measured by its significant financial benefits during development and deployment; its cost avoidance for years to come; and its impact to the global economy which relies on air traffic’s NMR infrastructure to process the products necessary for continued service.
I didn't know what to expect from yesterday's visit to the FAA Tech Center. What I learned impressed me considerably, and I am extremely proud of the AJW-17 team's achievement. Folks, I've seen a lot of great work from devoted and skilled government employees over the years. The innovation and cost-savings of the AJW-17 team offer yet another example of government that works.