FULLY REDUNDANT BACKUP SYSTEMS-Fact Sheet – En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM)

April 29, 2015Contact: Tammy JonesPhone: (202) 267-3883, Email: Tammy.L.Jones@faa.gov

BackgroundThe 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.

Several years ago, the FAA began replacing the legacy system known as the Host with a new, NextGen-enabling system known as En Route Automation, or ERAM.

ERAM provides core functionality for air traffic controllers, and the FAA designed it to support satellite-based systems such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast and data communication technologies. Working together, all of these systems will improve efficiency and enhance safety. 

Lockheed Martin developed the ERAM system for the FAA. The system is now 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, Oklahoma.

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.

BenefitsERAM 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, while the legacy system could track up to 1,100 aircraft). 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, enabling the use of three-mile (rather than five-mile) separation.  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.

ERAM provides many additional benefits over the Host, the 40-year-old legacy system it is replaced:

FeaturesThe En Route Information Display System provides real-time aeronautical information, enabling more efficient data management.

A fully redundant backup channel precludes the need to restrict operations in the event of a primary failure. The backup channel also provides safety alerts and weather information not available on today’s backup system.

ERAM has increased flexibility in routing around congestion, bad weather and other airspace restrictions. Automatic flight coordination increases efficiency and capacity.