The William J. Hughes Technical Center, located in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, serves as the national test base for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The facility conducts research and development, test and evaluation, and verification and validation in air traffic control, communications, navigation, airports, aircraft safety, and security. They also conduct long-range development of aviation systems and concepts, development of new air traffic control equipment and software, and modification of existing systems and procedures.
Within this facility, one branch of the FAA, AJM-2561, is responsible to test changes and enhancements to the Enroute Air Traffic Control (ATC) systems. Enroute controllers provide services to airborne aircraft as well as to many smaller airports around the country. Part of the AJM-2561 group is an HSI Division team of nine former Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) that develop and lead much of this testing. Each member of this team has more than 30 years’ experience in ATC facilities at locations throughout the country.
The team’s work is conducted within several labs that replicate ATC systems and facilities. This includes systems such as Enroute Automation and Modernization (ERAM), Data Comm (provides a digital link between ground automation and flight deck avionics), Advanced Technologies and Oceanic Procedures (ATOP), Terminal and Canadian Automated Air Traffic System (CAATS). Live interfaces can be connected with each of these different labs and systems to allow testing using the same environment as operational ATC Facilities.
To prepare for this testing, the HSI team must become experts on the proposed changes, equipment, and utilization by ATCs. They develop the test plans, strategies, test steps and scenarios that will be used. Once the actual testing begins, the HSI team manages the lab and the work that the controllers perform. The controllers conduct the test steps and report any deficiencies in the system along with any recommended changes. The HSI team tracks these deficiencies until they are resolved. Testing is an exhaustive effort and can take up to six months to complete for any given system release.
The AJM-2561 Manager has shared the following about the HSI team: They not only are experts on the ERAM system but also experts with our Second Level Engineering Test Process. They provide constant calm leadership on all test tasks within our department. They schedule, guide and have a partnership with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) SME team that cannot be replaced. They help, develop and train not only new NATCA SMEs but also new FAA and support contractor test personnel. Their knowledge is second to none. This team is always willing to put in any time needed to meet the ever-changing program schedules and milestones; putting in long days without my even being asked. They juggle multiple assignments with ease and never say “no”. They always have a “can-do” attitude. Without this dedicated team of HSI support, the ERAM and Data Comm Milestones could not have been met.
It is HIS Division employees like this team that demonstrate on a daily basis how and why Oasis is recognized as a leader in support of FAA system development both today and into the future.