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Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement (TAMR)

 Kyle Ness, NATCA TAMR Article 114 Representative 

Background:  The TAMR program deploys and sustains Terminal Automation for the Terminal Radar Approach Controls (TRACONs) and associated Air Traffic Control Towers in the National Airspace System (NAS). The automation platform for the terminal NAS is the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS). Deployment of the STARS system is currently being accomplished in two tech refresh phases – replace the approximately 100 Automated Radar Terminal Systems (ARTS) and tech refresh the STARS G1/G2 systems deployed pre-2007 with G4 and G4 ELITE hardware. STARS is sustained by the TAMR PMO, Terminal Second Level Engineering (TSLE) and the prime vendor, Raytheon. Sustainment activities include STARS software/hardware requirements, software/hardware development and testing, STARS training, Safety Risk Management, and field support. 

Joshua Control Facility (JCF) successfully transitioned to STARS February 27. The original IOC date was delayed due to training and travel limitations imposed by COVID protocols. NATCA TAMR provided floorwalking assistance for four days to assist controllers and troubleshoot problems. Working with the controllers, the facrep and ATM, NATCA TAMR suggested several changes to enhance STARS automation functions. 

The STARS Main Display Monitor (MDM) model 3s were replaced with model 4 at Philadelphia TRACON in anticipation of additional workstations. The MDM 3 and 4 cannot be mixed in the operational environment due to minor differences in the presentation of each monitor. NATCA TAMR was onsite to assist Tech Ops with brightness/contrast settings for the new monitors. Additional hardware installation activity begins late April and continues into summer. 

Operational Testing and Evaluation will resume April 12 -23 at the Tech Center with a regression test of the S6.R10 build. Highlights of the R10 build include:  Approach Runway Verification, Wrong Airport notification, ATPA processing for formation flights, a new command to remove all PTLs created individually enhanced handoff capability between STARS and ERAM, and TSAS improvements. Four NATCA SMEs will attend the OT&E. One more OT&E is planned for R10 this fall before key site early November. S6.R9 Run-for-Record is scheduled late June and pending suitability will be available for key site mid-August. Currently fielded builds R7 and R8 will be modified to correct an aural alarm software bug and will also be tested in June. These builds are termed R7a and R8a. 

Key sites for R7a and R8a is currently being considered. Facilities under consideration are Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP), Fayetteville (FAY) and Northern California TRACON (NCT). Due to COVID restrictions, key site will be supported remotely by the Tech Center. Sites under consideration for R9 key sites are, Allentown (ABE), Pittsburgh (PIT), Omaha (R90) and Denver TRACON (D01). R9 key site support will be on-site. 

The STARS printer is end-of-life and a replacement will not be qualified. The STARS printer is typically located in the equipment room of the TRACON. To accommodate for the sunset of the printer, the R7 STARS software build enables Tech Ops to access electronic versions of these printouts out and either print the files from a workstation or send electronically. STARS system documents, including “ZP” printouts will be handled via the print-to-file method. 

NATCA TAMR participated in the S6.R10 Air Traffic Training Material review session February 23-25. Participants from Raytheon, Fortier, AJM and AJI also attended the virtual review to go over CBI training material for technical accuracy and bearing on training. 

The equipment depot reported a shortage of the current General Digital Tower Display Monitor (TDM) to logistically support STARS towers. The Eizo TDM is approved as a replacement but only in digital mode. To function on analog networks, the Eizo must be qualified to function in analog mode. NATCA and Human Factors have approved the Eizo TDM. 

Several STARS sites are updating local adaptation from “HOST” to “ERAM” data format in March and April. When this format change is completed, nothing should look different on STARS with one exception. The number of aircraft in a formation flight will display in the type area of the STARS data block for departures. Before implementation of the R7 build in STARS and this ERAM change, STARS would only show number of aircraft in a formation on arrival or overflight data blocks only. For sites that handle DoD operations, this is a welcome change. 

Jason Rose is the NATCA TAMR Systems Engineering Lead 

Background:  The Systems Engineering Lead represents NATCA for STARS software and hardware requirements. The Systems Engineering Lead also coordinates software/hardware development and deployment activity for NATCA including Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E), SME selection, software planning, site rules and Safety Risk Management, Discrepancy Report resolution, and vendor Early User Involvement (EUI) events. 

Mr. Rose and Kyle Ness (M98) traveled to Joshua Control Facility (JCF) February 26th – March 3rd for the facilities cutover from Rehost to STARS. As Subject Matter Experts, they participated as floor walkers to help the JCF Controllers working live traffic with the transition.  The integrated FAA- DoD Edwards successfully achieved IOC (Initial Operational Capability) at 0615L, 2/27/2021 and then successfully achieved ORD (Operational Readiness Demonstration) at 0900L, 3/4/2021. 

PTRWG (Program Trouble Reports Working Group). Stakeholders went through the process of reviewing PTRs last in October 2019.  One PTR was reviewed that jumped into the Top 40 rankings. FAAst14634 (Suspend Track Color and PO FDB Improvements) moved up from 042 to 27.500. No other changes were made in the Top 40. Two PTRs were reviewed on the Watch List. FAAst14530 (UAT ADSB Mode code issues) will need additional time while NATCA and SBS discuss this. FAAst11095 (Use of ASTERIX to Replace CD-2 Format for RADAR Input) will be extended on the Watch List. Program Improvement PTR FAAst15230 (Selected Altitude) was reviewed again. It had last been reviewed during the September 2020 meeting. In that September meeting, AJV noted this is related to the ATO Top 5 safety issues in the NAS (Altitude Compliance). In these current discussions, AT stakeholders feel it is appropriately ranked now, but will need to be raised in the future. Will try to review in another six months. Several DMS related PTRs were reviewed and moved up in the rankings as a grouping. These are mostly related to Site Rule Conversions. Most of those jumped up about thirty positions into the 060 range. The biggest jump was for FAAst13819 (Allow the Use of “X” for Flight Rules) going from 127 to 61.200. 

Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E) – A virtual Test Coordination Meeting (TCM) for the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) S6.R10 Drop 3 Operational Test & Evaluation (OT&E) Risk Mitigation (RM) was held on February 18, 2021. The objective of the meeting was to discuss TSLE Test’s plans for STARS S6.R10 Drop 3 OT&E RM and to obtain approval of the test approach from key stakeholders. The STARS S6.R10 Drop 3 OT&E RM will be conducted from March 23, 2021 through April 22, 2021. 

Software Planning Board (SPB) – Stakeholders discussed adding Program Trouble Reports (PTR’s) and Software Change Configuration Management Unit (SCCMU) to the following upcoming builds. S6.00R9 – In addition to new content, the schedule is updated. Concurrence was given by all Stakeholders. One SCCMUs added:  FAAst15353 (CPU Core Lockup Failure) – Fixes issue with FAAst14954 in Drop 6. Found during R10 OT&E and documented by R10 DR #146. Also related to FAA.ARCHIVE.062220. S6.00R10 – In addition to new content, the schedule is updated. Concurrence was given by all Stakeholders. Two SCCMUs added:  FAAst15354 (CPU Core Lockup Failure: R10 DR #146) – Merges the above R9 fix to R10 Drop XX. FAAst15358 (DMS Does Not Prevent Entry of The Same Scratchpad Alias as Another Runway ID (R10 DR#150)) – Related to ARV. S8.00R3 – 14 additional PTRs included are only being targeted and will continue to have a place in the PTRWG rankings. Almost all of these are in the Top 25. A schedule is not being worked yet. 

Scott Kendrick is the NATCA TAMR OSF Representative 

Background: The NATCA TAMR representative represents the multi-unit for terminal adaptation, testing, requirements, key site, software planning, deployment, and site rules. 

Stakeholders attended Technical Interchange Telecon (TIM) for ASERTIX over IP in STARS. The agency is looking at transitioning the automation from legacy circuits over to carrier ethernet/IP circuits. The series of TIM’s is to finalize high level requirements for STARS.  

PTRWG (Program Trouble Report Working Group):  Two PTRs were reviewed on the Watch List. FAAst14530 (UAT ADSB Mode code issues) and will need additional time while NATCA and SBS to discuss. FAAst11095 (Use of ASTERIX to Replace CD-2 Format for RADAR Input) will be extended on the watch list while S MacKeen will work with other groups and gets an estimate. One PTR was reviewed that jumped into the Top 40. FAAst14634 (Suspend Track Color and PO FDB Improvements) moved up from 042 to 27.500. No other changes were made in the Top 40. Several DMS related PTRs were reviewed and moved up in the rankings as a grouping. These are mostly related to Site Rule Conversions. Most of those jumped up about thirty positions into the 060 range. The biggest jump was for FAAst13819 (Allow the Use of “X” for Flight Rules) going from 127 to 61.200. Program Improvement PTR FAAst15230 (Selected Altitude) was reviewed again. It had last been reviewed during the September 2020 meeting. In that meeting, R Walker noted this is related to the ATO Top 5 safety issues in the NAS (Altitude Compliance). In these current discussions, AT stakeholders feel it is appropriately ranked now, but will need to be raised in the future. Will try to review in another six months. One TSAS PTR (FAAst14508 TSAS CAP – (EMA Message “EnRoute Affected”) had been included on the agenda due to the timeframe it had been last reviewed. Since it was in a grouping of ten other TSAS PTRs. We quickly reviewed that grouping of TSAS PTRs and they all remained at their current rank. In addition, new PTR FAAst15345 (TSAS OT – ETA Trajectory Drawn Incorrectly During RNP Curve), which is associated with R10 DR #68, was included in the rankings at the top of that grouping (Rank 114.500).   

STARS Strategic Planning (SSP):  Stakeholders continue to coordinate and get feedback on integrated hardware and software planning, identifying risks and potential conflicts between external and internal efforts without adding risk more to the software baselines. Identify opportunities to the Hardware and Software plan to improve the execution of the TAMR program. 

System Technical Reports Working Group (STRWG):  Stakeholders reviewing proposed software modifications to STARS.  Software updates  

while working on implementing STR 29407, we identified an issue with updating the CDR Data Reduction windows as specified in the thinspec.  The team recommended a different set of screens that perform the same function and is consistent with existing windows.  Also, as a result, the update to SSS Book 2 which described the filter selection screen was removed. 

In addition, Mr. Kendrick attended the TAMR Look Ahead, TAMR STARS/TSAS, Safety Risk Management (SRM) and weekly OSF Technical telecons. 

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