Harris Corp., which is developing NVS software, will test it in 2017, followed by testing at the FAA Tech Center in 2018.
Initial FAA operational testing and evaluation of NVS with aircraft will occur at air traffic control facilities in Seattle in 2019.
NVS will replace decades-old analog systems with secure VoIP technology.
VoIP brings great flexibility to quickly reconfigure voice networks when air traffic is heavy or during a facility emergency.
The National Airspace System (NAS) Voice System (NVS) brings communications between pilots and air traffic controllers into the 21st century with a new computerized telecommunications network.
NVS is a Voice over Intranet Protocol system that will carry the ground portion of voice communications digitally over the secure FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI). Once it's deployed nationwide, NVS will serve all FAA air traffic control facilities. Unlike the analog system it replaces, NVS provides flexibility and isn't limited by geography because it uses intranet protocol to route connections on the ground. That lets controllers and pilots reach beyond the local area to talk to each other. Pilots and controllers will also enjoy clearer voice communications once the all-digital system is fully in place.
A controller talking to a pilot using the NAS Voice System can bring other controllers into the conversation if needed.
FAA technicians will be able to reconfigure voice networks at the flip of a switch. This will enable one air traffic control facility to relieve another during high workload if the controllers are trained to work traffic in the other facility's airspace. Temporarily handing off traffic would have been helpful, for example, when a fire occurred at the Chicago en route center in 2014 and grounded thousands of flights. Technicians had to manually rewire connections at a nearby air traffic control center before it could begin helping control some of the air traffic usually handled by Chicago Center.
Harris Corp., which won the NVS contract in 2012 and operates the FTI, continues to develop software to support the program. The company will start NVS software testing in 2017.
NVS software and hardware will then be tested with other NAS equipment at the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, NJ, starting in 2018. Those tests will show how the system will perform in the field when connected to the NAS at air traffic control facilities. Tech Center engineers will perform end-to-end testing with NAS systems using the software, ensuring that the reliability standards demanded by NAS operations are met.
Initial FAA operational testing and evaluation using NVS for communication with aircraft in the NAS will occur at three sites in 2019: Seattle Center, Seattle Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. After the evaluation phase, NVS will first roll out to 20 en route centers between 2020 and 2025. The deployment schedule for TRACONs and towers has yet to be established.
In the future, NVS could connect controllers to remote pilots of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) far from the actual location of flight operations. Hard-wired analog voice systems allow controllers to talk only to pilots of manned aircraft or UAS operating close to an air traffic control facility. NVS will enable a remote pilot anywhere in the United States to operate a UAS while talking to controllers at any air traffic control facility in the country.