NAS Voice over IP Communication Enterprise (VoICE)
Jon Shedden represents the NATCA membership as the Article 114 Representative to the VoICE project.
Background: The National Airspace System (NAS) VoICE program will encompass what was the NVS program. This will include acquisitions to replace our aging voice switches, as well as Radio Control Equipment (RCE). The second Request For Industry (RFI) was released on March 31st, 2020. This RFI has quite a few questions directly related to controller functions. The FAA also released a Screening Information Request (SIR) to acquire in-production Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) voice communication systems. The FAA intends to perform market research on these systems, in conjunction with responses from the RFI, to revise and/or update existing requirements to better align with existing industry standards. This should help to expedite and simplify future voice communication systems acquisitions.
Work continues on the Air-to-Ground Media Gateway (AGMG). The AGMG, being developed as a part of the Future Flight Service Program (FFSP; for flight service in the contiguous US), will allow modern Internet Protocol (IP) voice switches to communicate with legacy radios. These will be deployed to several ARTCCs to aid the transition of flight service radios to VoIP.
Alaska Flight Service was scheduled to have their aging voice switch replaced with NVS. Now that the NVS contract has ended, work has begun to find a suitable replacement. Work has begun on an Operational Needs Assessment (ONA) and continues on a shortfall analysis as well as requirements review.
Next Generation Air-Ground Communication (NEXCOM) continues the deployment of new CM300/350 V2 radios to terminal facilities across the country.
The NEXCOM program office has kicked off the Emergency Transceiver Replacement. This program is looking to replace aging tunable transceivers at DEN, HNL, PCT, PHX, SCT, and SLC. Work continues in 2nd Level Engineering to develop a suitable replacement. They are also looking to replace approximately 2000 of the grab-and-go style emergency transceivers (e.g. PET-2000). The replacement for the PET-2000 is currently in source selection.
NAS Voice Recorder Program (NVRP) is the replacement for existing NAS voice recorders. NICE Ltd. was officially awarded the NVR contract to replace the legacy voice recorders. The key site install is scheduled for this summer at Seattle ARTCC (ZSE).
The Tone Mitigation National Workgroup is working on ways to eliminate/reduce the continuing tone/noise events in the NAS, as well as provide better protection to controllers through new headsets. Testing of new headset bases has occurred at PCT and I90. Testing at ZMA the week of April 27th was postponed and will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
The FAA is in the process of purchasing approximately 1000 headset splitters for use in terminal facilities with only 2-jack positions. This is related to CAR-2012-001 and will allow controllers to perform position relief briefings during OJT. Work continues updating the deployment spreadsheet to capture 804 facilities as well as facilities that were expected to get NVS. A survey was sent to the field to get a more accurate response to the number of splitters needed at each facility.
The FAA is in the early stages of a technical refresh of the Small Tower Voice Switch (STVS). There are approximately 130 STVSs across the NAS.
The Voice Switch and Control System (VSCS) Training and Backup Switch (VTABS) is scheduled for replacement of the PECO Power Subsystem at all ARTCCs. The PECO system is obsolete and must be replaced. The replacement plan at all ARTCCs includes VTABS being out-of-service for approximately 3 days. The SRM panel occurred on April 7th via teleconference. The Safety Risk Management Document (SRMD) is still in draft form with a residual risk of Medium (1E). The VSCS program office in conjunction with AJW-174 (VSCS 2nd level engineering) has developed an extensive risk mitigation plan for this effort.