National Airspace System (NAS) Voice over IP Communication Enterprise (VoICE)
Jon Shedden represents the NATCA membership as their Article 114 Representative to the VoICE project.
Background: The National Airspace System (NAS) Voice over IP Communication Enterprise (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 FAA has executed a contract to procure multiple small Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) voice systems. The FAA intends to use these systems to revise and update requirements for the Voice Communications System Specification to better align with existing industry standards. The FAA and NATCA have signed a scoping workgroup agreement to establish a small workgroup tasked with evaluating existing voice system requirements in conjunction with these COTS systems. The FAA has scheduled these systems to be installed at the FAA Tech Center beginning in February.
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 continues on a shortfall analysis, an Operational Needs Assessment (ONA), a Concept of Operations (ConOps), as well as requirements review.
Next Generation Air-Ground Communication (NEXCOM)
NEXCOM continues the deployment of new CM300/350 V2 radios to terminal facilities across the country. The NEXCOM program office is working on the Emergency Transceiver Replacement to replace aging tunable transceivers at Denver (DEN), Honolulu (HNL), Potomac Tracon (PCT), Phoenix (PHX), Southern California Tracon (SCT), and Salt Lake City (SLC). Work continues in 2nd Level Engineering to develop a suitable replacement. The FAA is 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 and expected to be awarded in FY21-Q1. Key site is currently planned for Jacksonville Tower/TRACON (JAX).
NAS Voice Recorder Program (NVRP)
NVRP is the replacement for existing NAS voice recorders (DALR, DALR2, DVRS, DVR2). NICE Ltd. was officially awarded the NVR contract to replace the legacy voice recorders. Key site install is scheduled for this summer at Seattle ARTCC (ZSE) but will be delayed. The program office has begun looking at adding additional key sites to the program. The training development process has also begun.
Tone Mitigation National Workgroup
The Tone Mitigation National Workgroup is working on ways to eliminate/reduce the continuing tone/noise event in the NAS, as well as provide better protection to controllers through new headsets. Testing of new headset bases has occurred at PCT and Houston Tracon (I90). Further testing was scheduled at Miami Center (ZMA) and New York Tracon (N90) but has been delayed. Discussions are ongoing regarding how to resume headset testing during the pandemic.
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 Section 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. A minor issue with the splitters was discovered by Portland TRACON (P80). The program office is working with the manufacturer to resolve the issue.
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 FAA and NATCA are working collaboratively on the controller’s human machine interface for the refreshed panels. Key site is currently planned for McClellan-Palomar Airport (CRQ). The vendor presented an early demonstration of the touch panel to the FAA and NATCA on October 8th, 2020. Aaron Katz, NATCA representative for Human Performance, and representatives from KCRQ and KAGC were in attendance.
The Voice Switch and Control System (VSCS) Training and Backup Switch (VTABS) is scheduled for replacement of the PECO Power Subsystem at all ARTCCs. A national SRM panel was held remotely on April 7th. The replacement will result in VTABS being unavailable for up to 3 days at each ARTCC. A significant amount of prep work will be done at each ARTCC to ensure the availability of VSCS during the installation. This project is currently on hold due to the pandemic.
A Corrective Action Request (CAR) was issued by the Eastern Service Area Event Review Committee to address ongoing frequency and landline problems at TPA. The CAR was issued on 11/12/2020, and the agency is working to resolve the issues.
Palo Alto tower had an ATSAP Information Request (AIR) issued to address continuing problems with their Small Tower Voice Switch (STVS). These problems are becoming more common across the NAS at STVS facilities. The STVS tech refresh will resolve these issues.
Jon Shedden’s Contact Information:
NATCA Voice Comm Representative