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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. 

Several STARS/TAMR related activities are restarting with the easing of COVID travel restrictions. TAMR Tech Refresh resumes with Initial Operating Capability (IOC) at Norfolk (ORF), Corpus Christi (CRP) and Laredo (LRD) planned for the first quarter of FY 2022. Controller training will be addressed during IOC planning meetings. STARS equipment installation at the new Charlotte (CLT) tower and TRACON is scheduled mid-May through June in support of IOC in calendar year 2022. The equipment provides the new tower and TRACON additional workstations and allows tower controllers to work more independently. Installation of G4 ELITE strings at STARS Operational Support Facilities (OSF) has resumed at NEOSF, DENOSF, SEOSF and GCOSF. Commissioning is planned June through October. The additional G4 ELITE strings allow OSF specialists greater flexibility and capability to test site adaptation for the STARS sites they support. 

NATCA SMEs travelled to the FAA Technical Center in April for S6.R10 Drop 3 Operational Test & Evaluation (OT&E) Risk Mitigation (RM). Thirteen new DRs were written during the Risk Mitigation and ten high priority DRs were closed as the fixes were validated. STARS S6.R10 Drop 3 contains new functionality and software changes including:  

  • Air Traffic Proximity Alert (ATPA) support for formation flights 
  • Military Alert Suppression Zone (MASZ) doesn’t inhibit CA alerts when aircraft are in different MASZs  
  • Center Handoff of Departure Back to STARS Rejected  
  • Monitor an Associated Flight Plans Airport of Intended Landing  
  • Site Rule Conversion: Highlight Data Blocks with Color in Geographic Regions  
  • Changes for Improved Sign-In and Sign-Out Processing and Reporting  
  • Improve tracker handling of sensor priority when in IBI mode  
  • ERAM Handoff Back to Approach  
  • STARS AIG 500 messages sends only 2 characters CID for SISO to use  
  • Weather Color and Stipple Patterns Difficult to Discern  
  • Increase Mapping Priorities for Navy’s Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facilities (FACSFAC)  
  • Approach Runway Verification (ARV)  
  • TSAS AJV IOC Critical -Sequence number Colors Desire to have the sequence numbers in different colors based on the Runway  
  • TSAS OT IOC Critical – Desired Behavior for Runway Change  
  •  

During the event NATCA TAMR SMEs participated in a Precipitation on the Glass (PoG) user assessment at the FAA Human Factors lab. The purpose of the event was to observe various scenarios with precipitation originating from sources proposed by the PoG workgroup – NWP, ITWS, NEXRAD, etc. The source would eventually serve as a replacement for ASR generated precipitation on the STARS display. 

Section 547 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 directs the FAA Administrator to establish an Enhanced Air Traffic Services (EATS) pilot program, which shall provide air traffic control (ATC) services on a preferential basis to aircraft equipped with certain NextGen avionics. This program shall take place for at least 2 years, at least 3 suitable airports, for at least 3 hours each day. The pilot program includes Los Angeles (LAX) airport with implementation no later than September 2021. To apply RNP approaches at an airport like LAX while also providing traditional radar vector navigation requires specialized implementation of the Converging Runway Display Aid (CRDA) tool. CRDA in the current form is designed for straight-in approaches and to adapt along the curved path takes specialized adaptation. OSF met with Air Traffic at SCT the week of May 1 to begin development and adaptation. 

The casefile to allow STARS TMU positions for operational use was recently approved for the realignment of Newark (EWR) area from New York Tracon (N90) to Philadelphia (PHL) project. STARS TMU positions differ from controller positions by the location of the processor and hardware whereas the supporting hardware for the Terminal Control Workstation (TCW) is mounted in the display console while the supporting hardware for the TMU is rack mounted in the equipment room. This saves considerable space and allows the TMU position to sit in the middle of the TRACON as opposed to the perimeter. The TAMR Program Office is also coordinating equipment acquisition for the additional controller workstations at PHL TRACON to take on the EWR area operation. 

As of April 29, 2021, there has been a total of 49 tower kit deliveries to the SMC in support of STARS Standardization activity. Standardization is a series of equipment replacements and upgrades required for future STARS capabilities and system enhancements (fiber cable, routers, etc.). The tower kits include a new controller Tower Display Monitor. 

TBFM/TSAS IOC critical items include a change to STARS that would allow the controller to adjust the brightness or toggle TSAS tools associated with the data block. To meet an aggressive software schedule NATCA STARS and TSAS collaborated to define requirements and identify the functionality desired. This will meet the date for TSAS IOC at Denver currently planned for September 2022. 

TSLE is finalizing a STARS System Support Modification (SSM) for Flying Cloud Tower (FCM). The SSM restores Final Monitor Aid (FMA) functionality on a 24-inch monitor FCM uses to monitor extended finals. FCM airport experiences a high number of wrong surface landings and the tower utilizes FMA on a supplemental monitor to zoom in on the extended finals and verify which runway landing aircraft are lined up to. 

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. 

During the last month, Mr. Rose has participated in the TAMR STARS Weekly Look Ahead. The goal of this meeting is touch base with the TAMR STARS team to discuss any needs for accomplishing goals soon. He also participated in NATCA/TAMR PMO Tag ups, TAMR/STARS TSAS Meetings and the STARS Strategic Planning (SSP) Meetings – The purpose of the STARS Strategic Planning Meeting is to coordinate and get feedback on integrated hardware and software planning among TAMR stakeholders. 

Program Trouble Reports Working Group (PTRWG) 

The April 15, 2021 meeting was cancelled due to a conflict with R10 OT&E testing at the Tech Center. 

STARS Operating System Migration Working Group (OSWG) 

R1A, re-plan dates (Draft) were made available at the SSP and are available. A file containing the TSLE test R1A schedule will be provided with the April meeting minutes.  

AT COACH/AT Prepare – after review of the product and discussions with the test stakeholders the scope currently planned may change and be scaled back. 

Safety Risk Management Panel (SRM) 

A panel was held for Terminal Second Level Engineering (TSLE), Orders JsO 6191.5 Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) Maintenance Technical Handbook (MTHB) Generation (G4), Change 3 and JO 6191.6 Change STARS Enhanced Local Integrated Tower Equipment (ELITE) MTHB, Change 3 on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 via video conference. The SRM panel was briefed that a task force was created to analyze all the current PMs and essential tasks post COVID.  The reevaluation was conducted by a task force comprised of field and technical operations personnel, which assessed each PM to determine if it should remain, be removed, or the periodicity changed.  The findings of the PM task force resulted in Document Discrepancy Report (DDR) FAAst15376, Post-COVID Reduced PM changes in JO 6191.5, Change 3 and JO 6191.6, Change 3. The SRM Panel reviewed the maintenance handbook (JO 6191.5 STARS MTHB G4, Change 3) changes and determined they are editorial or technical and will have no safety impact to the National Airspace System (NAS). The STARS ELITE MTHB, JO 6191.6 has an existing, documented, and accepted hazard for the Periodic Maintenance (PM) of Section 5-24 in which there is a loss of redundancy when this PM needs to be performed.  This hazard is currently being monitored in Safety Management Tracking System (SMTS). The panel determined that the changes in Change 3 do not affect this hazard.  See below for a summary of the associated hazard. 

System Technical Reports Working Group (STRWG) 

Stakeholders came to concurrence on software updates to FAAst14344 Option to Not Display Selected TSAS Tools on Unowned Tracks. This updates the baseline implementation that the TCP displays all TSAS tools for any track that is displaying a Full Data Block (FDB). With this update, unowned tracks (except tracks in Handoff) will not show TSAS slot markers and slot marker decorations (track and slot airspeeds) when those tracks are displayed with FDB using the existing commands. The controller will have the capability to issue new commands to specify which unowned tracks will display their slot marker and slot marker decorations. Stakeholders also came to concurrence on software updates to STR 30252: X4000 Processor On-Board Video. This was a small update per FAA request to expand the scope to include on-board serial capability.  

ASTERIX over IP on STARS 

STARS will be modified to accept radar data over IP network interfaces in ASTERIX message format using a new version of categories 34, 48 and 08. All existing surveillance sensor interfaces (serial and network) will continue to be supported with no change. Meetings resumed this month as Stakeholders reviewed the hardware portion of the thinspec. 

Software Planning Board (SPB) 

Stakeholders discussed adding Program Trouble Reports (PTR’s) and Software Change Configuration Management Unit (SCCMU) to the following upcoming builds. Meetings resumed this month to update TSAS PTRs. It is too early to know if these will be considered part of S6.00R10 DXXX or will become contingency release S6.00R10A. 

S8.00R1A – S8.00R1 combined into S8.00R1A for one build. Schedule for combining into one build updated accordingly but will need some minor revisions due to all the re-planning activities. Plan to ask for concurrence. FAAst15156 (OS Replacement for SCSC/OSF) moves from S8.00R1 to S8.00R1A. 

S8.00R3 – This SW build was discussed during the 4/20/21 Tactical Meeting, including notional schedules for it. A more formal schedule will need to be developed following future Tactical Meetings. The content listed for what is currently known as S8.00R3 is shown to be available for Key Site between February 2024 and August 2024. Since this content is needed on contract ASAP, concurrence was given on the following PTRs. 

FAAst11082 (CA Suppression on Approach Path (SOAP) was removed from the R3 list. 

FAAst15269 (ADS-B In Phase 1) Remains in list, but as targeted, not build assigned. 

All other PTRs will change from Targeted to Build Assigned and will no longer be in the PTRWG Rankings. 

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. 

Operating Testing and Evaluation (OT&E) 

OSF SMEs from North Texas OSF (Scott Kendrick) and Gulf Coast OSF (Paul Shireman) supported the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) S6.00.R10 Drop 3 Operational Test & Evaluation (OT&E) Risk Mitigation (RM) April 13th to April 22ndSTARS S6.R10 Drop 3 RM focused on new functionality delivered in Configuration Control Decisions (CCDs)/Case Files, Program Trouble Reports (PTRs), Source Code Configuration Management Updates (SCCMU). In addition, System Baseline Tests (SBTs) were run and time was allotted for the SMEs to conduct User System Assessment (USA). 

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 to the software baselines.  

Safety Risk Management (SRM) 

A Safety Risk Management (SRM) Panel was held for Terminal Second Level Engineering (TSLE), Orders JO 6191.5 Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) Maintenance Technical Handbook (MTHB) Generation (G4), Change 3 and JO 6191.6 Change STARS Enhanced Local Integrated Tower Equipment (ELITE) MTHB, Change 3.  The SRM Panel reviewed the maintenance handbook changes and determined they are editorial or technical and will have no safety impact to the National Airspace System (NAS). 

Software Planning Board (SPB) 

Agenda included: 

  1. STARS Long Range Software Planning (continuation from 4/20/21 Tactical Meeting). Update on TSAS PTRs status TSAS CAP: Slot Marker and Associated Speeds Clutter & TSAS OT – Option to Not Display Selected TSAS Tools on Unowned Tracks. As discussed at the 3/24/21 SPB, still too early to know if these will be considered part of S6.00R10 DXXX or will become contingency release S6.00R10A. 
  1. S8.00R1A – S8.00R1 combined into S8.00R1A for one build. Schedule for combining into one build and will need some minor revisions due to all the re-planning activities. Moves from S8.00R1 to S8.00R1A. 
  1. OS Replacement for SCSC/OSF. Added to S8.00R1A DXX. Removal of PERL I/O card and enhancements to keyboard-to-glass timing X4000 On-board Video 
  1. S8.00R3 – This SW build was discussed during the 4/20/21 Tactical Meeting, including notional schedules for it. A more formal schedule will need to be developed following future Tactical Meetings. The content listed for what is currently known as S8.00R3 is shown to be available for Key Site between February 2024 and August 2024.  
  1. CA Suppression on Approach Path (SOAP) – removed from list. 
  1. ADS-B In Phase 1 – Remains in list, but as Targeted, not build assigned. 
  1. All other PTRs will change from Targeted to Build Assigned and will no longer be in the  
  1. PTRWG Rankings. 
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