En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM)

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The computer system the FAA uses at its high altitude en-route centers is considered the backbone of the nation’s airspace system. The system processes flight and surveillance data, provides communications and generates display data to air traffic controllers. ERAM has increased flexibility in routing around congestion, bad weather and other airspace restrictions.

ERAM provides core functionality for air traffic controllers and supports satellite-based systems such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and Data Communication. Working together, all of these systems enhance safety and improve efficiency. 

ERAM is operational at 20 Air Route Traffic Control Centers – also known as en-route centers – throughout the United States and at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, OK.

Other FAA air traffic facilities, including Terminal Radar Approach Control facilities and towers, are connected to en route centers via ERAM. The system also connects with the FAA’s Command Center in Warrenton, Va., automated flight service stations, and other agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

ERAM increases capacity and improves efficiency in the nation’s skies. It enables en  route controllers at each center to track 1,900 aircraft at a time. Coverage extends beyond facility boundaries, enabling controllers to handle additional traffic more efficiently.

The system allows controllers to share and coordinate information seamlessly between centers. ERAM improves flight plan processing and enables automatic transitions between sectors and centers, even when planes divert from their planned course. This improves operational efficiency during bad weather and congestion.

Other benefits:

  • ERAM replaced four legacy systems, reducing the hardware operating and support costs, as well as the total number of software code lines and the cost of software maintenance.
  • The ERAM tracking function processes target reports from ADS-B and multiple radars.
  • ERAM creates a 4-dimensional trajectory (3D plus time) of every flight from take-off to landing. This improves a controller’s situational awareness in his or her airspace, as well as surrounding airspace, enabling better decision-making and safer, more efficient routing of aircraft along their flight path.
  • The system warns controllers when aircraft are unexpectedly entering their airspace, and provides improved capabilities for handling military aircraft to ensure their training exercises and military missions do not interfere with civilian flights.
  • ERAM takes advantage of improved tracking accuracy and flight plan processing to create more accurate controller tools. The system detects conflicts between two aircraft. It also adds new capabilities to operate with variable separation standards, allowing the controller to separate aircraft in the most efficient manner possible, increasing airspace capacity. Other functions allow airlines to take advantage of their on-board equipment to fly fuel-efficient routes, improve airspace safety, and reduce noise and emissions to protect the environment.