FAA successfully completes Y2K test

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FAA successfully completes Y2K test


DENVER (AP) - Federal Aviation Administration officials are confident the U.S. aviation system will withstand the Year 2000 computer glitch after successfully completing a live test of their software fixes early Sunday.

As clocks on test systems at Denver International Airport clicked toward the pretend witching hour of midnight on Dec. 31, 1999, an air traffic controller and the pilot of an FAA plane on its final approach to the airport held a conversation that bridged the gap of the new century.

``Convair three-niner, Denver approach'' the controller said. ``Time is one minute prior to entering the new millennium in our test systems. How do you read this transmission?''

The pilot replied: ``Loud and clear, and if we disappear off the screen, it means we went into the next millennium.''

A minute later, after the clocks read Jan. 1, 2000, the controller called back, ``You are now flying in the Year 2000 in our test system. How do you read this transmission?''

The pilot replied, ``It's loud and clear. It went right through the sound barrier very nicely.''

There were similarly successful results across an array of FAA computers, including those that track ground traffic, airport weather and the status of landing lights and remote radio beacons.

FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, who stayed up well past 2 a.m. MDT to watch the end of the four-hour test, was pleased. FAA officials had staged a dress rehearsal on March 27 and lesser tests on three prior occasions.

``Quite honestly, you had to watch the clock to be aware it was changing,'' Garvey said.

Ray Long, head of the FAA's Y2K program, expressed the irony of the evening before the test began.

``Our success will be gauged by the fact that nothing will happen,'' Long told an assembly of agency workers.

Because of the way many older computers are programmed, some software views years in a two-digit format, such as ``99'' for 1999. There is widespread concern that unless software is patched or rewritten, computers will malfunction when the century ends and the calendar changes from ``99'' to ``00,'' which may be interpreted as 1900 instead of 2000.

That is especially troublesome in aviation, where computers track airplanes from takeoff to landing. Some travelers have sworn off flying as Dec. 31, 1999, turns to Jan. 1, 2000, fearing that planes may collide or fall out of the sky because of computer problems.


And WHAT has been left unsaid? How many more folks will stop preparing or decide not to prepare at all as a result of this fluff article? If there are major y2k problems will the government and business folks responsible for cover up be held accountable? Stay tuned.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 11, 1999


IMHO articles like this are criminally negligent in the extreme.

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), April 11, 1999.

From the Statement by Kenneth M. Mead, Inspector General, Department of Transportation, before the Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, on March 15, 1999:

"FAA is facing a unique implementation challenge. The ATC system fixes, after being operated in test-center environments, have to be installed at multiple sites throughout the system. For example, the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar system provides detection of weather events such as wind shear and microbursts. FAA renovated the computer used to support this system, and has to install it at 47 sites. Implementing repairs into the real operational environment has risk due to potential complications resulting from local adaptations to ATC systems (changes made by local technicians). In the past, FAA has encountered problems installing test-center solutions at locations throughout the ATC system due to local changes.

FAA has 21 of the 65 ATC systems that have been fixed, tested, and installed at field sites. The remaining 44 systems are the most complex, and have to be installed at about 3,000 field sites"


-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), April 11, 1999.

Precisely what was "criminally negligent" about this article? Did it tell people not to prepare for Y2K? Did it overstate the results of the test?

The FAA tested an ATC system in Denver and found that after renovation, it was Y2K compliant. Is this not good news? Did they say that all of their systems were compliant? No. Do they still have work to do? Yes?

Take a deep breath fella, as much as you may despise the thought, good news is happening.

-- Y2K Pro (2@641.com), April 11, 1999.


What should the article have said? I understand Sysman's point that there's enough variation among the multiple systems so that no single test can be a one-size-fits-all. Are you saying that the article should have mentioned this?

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 11, 1999.


The article should have indicated among other things that this specific task was a SMALL portion of the efforts required by the FAA to complete their entire Y2K task.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 11, 1999.

Y2K Amateur commented:

"Precisely what was "criminally negligent" about this article? Did it tell people not to prepare for Y2K? Did it overstate the results of the test?"

You must have trouble READING sir!! It grossly mislead the reader, into believing ALL was well with the FAA. When the FAA has a press release that HONESTLY states its current Y2k remediation position then we will have taken a giant step towards informing the public.

Funny how you folks come out of the woodwork on this one.

Any kind of coordinated effort going on here?


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 11, 1999.


My reading is that this article reported on the success of one specific test. That was the *purpose* of this article, and it achieved that purpose. No news stories ever bother to include a warning to the reader that these stories are specifically *not* about things they're not about! Sheesh.

Maybe you'd like to see a law requiring all y2k stories of successful tests to include a caveat that no single test can ever be totally comprehensive? This one test seems to have covered quite a bit of ground. Sure, there's lots more ground to go, and that remains for further testing.

A long journey consists of single steps. Most people understand this. This was one step, but it was a big one and it worked. Even limited good news is still good news. If the test had failed, that would have been reported as well. It's foolish to complain that a story about a test that *was* performed didn't bother to cover all the tests that *weren't* performed.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 11, 1999.

Hmmm...Denver airport...I believe this is the same airport that still can't get its lousy baggage handling software to work correctly....IS THAT RIGHT Y2K PRO?

But the ATC stuff is fine...right.

-- a (a@a.a), April 11, 1999.


Are you saying the ATC and baggage handling software are interconnected in some way?

If so, do you have any evidence of this? If not, are you just trying to look silly?

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 11, 1999.

Flint commented:

"My reading is that this article reported on the success of one specific test. That was the *purpose* of this article, and it achieved that purpose. No news stories ever bother to include a warning to the reader that these stories are specifically *not* about things they're not about! Sheesh."

Flint, your reply really does NOT deserve an answer but I'll toss one back anyway. I NEVER mentioned anything about including a WARNING in the article. What I did say WAS "what has been left unsaid". Is this DIFFICULT to understand


-- Ray (ray@ttoacc.com), April 11, 1999.


Do you have *any* idea what's involved in writing an article that leaves *nothing* unsaid? Even the largest encyclopedia doesn't make any attempt at that -- nor does the Library of Congress!

What you're complaining about is that the article didn't say what *you* wanted it to say. For which we can all be thankful.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 11, 1999.

Flint commented:

"Do you have *any* idea what's involved in writing an article that leaves *nothing* unsaid? Even the largest encyclopedia doesn't make any attempt at that -- nor does the Library of Congress! "

Flint, this is without a doubt the WEAKEST reply I have ever seen from you.

Sincerely, Ray

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 11, 1999.


There you go, quoting some of my words. You might reread the actual article. The title was:

"FAA successfully completes Y2K test"

The title was *not* "FAA succesfully completes *all* Y2K tests"

I repeat: you are complaining that the article didn't say what *you* wanted it to say. It omitted off-topic material you would have included to feed your bias. Too bad.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 11, 1999.


"What has been left unsaid"


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 11, 1999.

A successful Y2K test does not implicitly mean that it is Y2K compliant and able to function properly under the real situation.

There will be only one time in human history when they will know if they fixed it properly or not, when 1-Jan-2000 actually happens (or even after.).

All the tests in the world can never totally reproduce actual running conditions, they can only bring to surface a lot of bugs but not all of them. Just look at Windows 98, first there was the Beta, then the release version and now the patches for the bugs they didn't discover in the beta test.

Regards, Simon

-- Simon Richards (simon@wair.com.au), April 11, 1999.

Flint: Denver airport is the poster child for software projects that are late AND cancelled. As you are undoubtedly aware, bugs in the airport's baggage handling system delayed the opening of the facility by over a year, at a cost of nearly a $1 million a day (a LATE project). When the system was finally debuted a year later, Denver taxpayers were dismayed to find that it only services ONE of the airport's airlines (support for others CANCELLED).

I find it ironic that FAA would choose the Denver airport to herald to the public that it has "Passed its Y2K test". What a bunch of crap.

You're gonna have to do better than that Flint.

-- a (a@a.a), April 11, 1999.

I just thought I would swing on by the Yourdon Y2K forum on this nice Sunday Morning and see what's going on. I left a while back because I got tired of all the garbage and bickering on this forum.

Lo and behold, this shit is still going on. It will never end!

Will you little boys knock it off and go to your bedroom without dinner!!!???!!!

When Y2K arrives, all this bickering will not matter anymore.


-- freddie (freddie@thefreeloader.com), April 11, 1999.


I really don't see your point. Yes, it's ironic that the FAA chose an airport that has suffered baggage handling problems, I suppose. But when you say "what a bunch of crap" it isn't clear to me what you are specifically addressing.

Are you saying this test would have been more meaningful at an airport where the baggage system works better? If so, why? What's the connection?

I can see you criticizing the test itself. For better or worse, I must classify you in my "all successful tests are meaningless" category. But what this possibly has to do with the baggage system completely baffles me. Just what connection do you see?

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 11, 1999.


Baggage handling systems in the Denver airport have nothing to do with the FAA or Y2K - they are an airport related issue.

The fact that the FAA was able to prove that a radar system, a system that tracks ground traffic, airport weather and the status of landing lights and remote radio beacons were compliant, must be seen by logical people of indications of success.

I do not understand how anyone except the congenitally stupid could see these small, but important steps in any other way.

-- Y2K Pro (2@641.com), April 11, 1999.

What this article tells us, if factual, is that it is POTENTIALLY safe to fly through the Denver area when the clock rolls over. I don't know the parameters of the test except that it was designed to track an aircraft with clocks set at 1/1/2000 from Grand Junction flying to Denver then on to Colorado Springs. This test SHOULD have tested the interface capability of that particular aircraft and systems with air traffic control and the interface capability between various segments of air traffic services such as air route centers with approach controls and tower. To me this looks like good news as far as FAA remediation goes. I am in the process of independantly verifying the press report now. Having said this, there are several aspects that the FAA can not test and that is the compliance levels of their power sources, the telco lines/systems, satellite and ground based navigations systems and airports' systems that the FAA uses and relies upon to complete their mission that is outside their jurisdiction and control. There is still potential of disruption if some of these systems fail and Sysman had it right, this is only Denver.

As an aviation safety related employee that knows a little bit about what I am saying, I am cautiously optimistic as a result of this test. Let's not necessarily dismiss some potentially good news out of hand because it doesn't fit our pre-concieved notions. I was keeping a sharp eye on this test as I do think it may be indicative of FAA progress in a general sense nation-wide. FWIW.

-- Ramp Rat (Aviation_R_us@noname.nocity), April 11, 1999.

I forgot to add the reason for ???Denver??? Let me hazard a guess. They use a HOST computer system (the one that everyone is concerned about old IBM, gazillions of lines of code, multiple "field adaptations" of the software), Denver is also likely not to be "down the tubes" with box haulers, like Fedex and UPS, or overnight domestic and international flights, and the red-eye overflights that Denver has on the mid shift are usually established on routes and at altitude giving the controllers the best chance of salvaging the situation if things went down.

Using that criteria, there are only a few centers that meet those descriptors in the US, Salt Lake, Albuquerque, maybe Kansas City or Minneapolis. And regarding the Denver baggage system: It has absolutely nothing to do with air traffic control. That's an airport system, not FAA system, not interdependant in the least. BTW, I've flown through DIA many times now and have never lost my bags or had them shredded...maybe I'm lucky.

-- Ramp Rat (Aviation_R_us@noname.nocity), April 11, 1999.

Ramp Rat, I will stick by my original question that being "what has been left unsaid". A fair question I believe.

freddie, see ya!


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 11, 1999.

Too good, Andy. Quite right.

How DARE they actually fix and successfully test their systems? And then actually TELL people about it? Criminally negligent is TOO SOFT a term!!

Don't they know Y2k CANNOT BE FIXED????

-- Hoffmeister (hoff_meister@my-dejanews.com), April 11, 1999.

Comin out of the woodwork!!


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 11, 1999.

pssst. Hey Ray. C'mon over here.

You're right, Ray. We're everywhere. Watching every move you make. Taking notes.

Just wanted to let you know, you're not really paranoid. No sir. Besides, even if you are paranoid, it doesn't mean they still aren't out to get you.

-- Hoffmeister (hoff_meister@my-dejanews.com), April 11, 1999.


WHAT has been left unsaid?


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 11, 1999.


OK, let me guess. What was left unsaid was that this was only one of many many tests that need to be performed, and one of many locations that needs to be tested. And that the FAA really *isn't* ready to perform numerous crucial tests, and that numerous sites aren't even ready for *this* test.

Is that it? If so, your point is well taken. We need a lot more testing. We don't have much time to do it. No argument there.

I think the point is that this was a story whose subject was the test actually performed. That subject was well covered. The overall status of the FAA and the tests remaining to be done is a different story. I agree, that different story should also be written.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 11, 1999.

Flint commented:

"I think the point is that this was a story whose subject was the test actually performed. That subject was well covered. The overall status of the FAA and the tests remaining to be done is a different story. I agree, that different story should also be written. "

Amen!! Many thanks.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 11, 1999.

Denver International is a standing joke - I live here so I should know - they are about to spend millions on a NEW runway lighting system as the one they JUST installed for millions is not compliant. The baggage handling system is a joke. They built the Airport in the middle of nowhere. I could go on...

y2k prole - you're doing better, thinking, making a LITTLE sense, a for effort.

I stand by my original remark. Negligent. Criminally so. The Tribunals will be hunting down the spinmeisters believe me :)

Ramp Rat has it right - Denver picked as it is in the middle of nowhere... reread his post.

I'm watching CNN as I type this and lo and behold, they are repeating the FAA SUCCESSFUL TEST over and over.

Watch it yourself.

They are telling THE SHEEPLE and I include y2k Prole, Hoff and Flint as the the two and a half wise sheep, that EVERYTHING IS OK - subliminally reinforcing, ALL THE TIME, "Y2K IS NOT A PROBLEM"...

You three are too dumb for words.

You do not have a clue about these FLUFF pieces do you? You don't have a clue as to how they are being used on CNN ANC NBC CBS PBS to MISLEAD, yes LIE to PEOPLE (sheeple)!

Dumb-asses! Sheesh!

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), April 12, 1999.

Andy - did you forget your meds again?

-- Y2K Pro (2@641.com), April 12, 1999.

Good god no y2k prole - YOU are my meds :)

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), April 12, 1999.

Federal Computer Week
APRIL 12, 1999

STARS delayed again; FAA seeks tech patch

BY COLLEEN O'HARA (ohara@fcw.com)

http://www.fcw.com/pubs/fcw/1999/0412/fcw-newsstars-4-12- 99.html

One of the Federal Aviation Administration's largest modernization projects appears to be on the rocks, with the agency scrambling to field interim systems as delays mount and a new report indicates significant performance problems.

The $1 billion Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS), awarded in September 1997 to Raytheon Co., is intended to replace the antiquated systems that process and display air traffic data at Terminal Radar Approach Control (Tracon) facilities, which control traffic in the 50-mile radius around the nation's airports.

The FAA originally planned to install the first system, an early version of STARS, at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in June 1998 but delayed delivery by nine months to give the agency and Raytheon an opportunity to work out design problems that concerned air traffic controllers and technicians.

However, the FAA apparently plans to delay the system further, with the Washington, D.C., airport now scheduled to take delivery by Dec. 31 of an early display configuration version of STARS, according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

With many airports not scheduled to receive the upgrade until a much later date, the FAA plans to deliver a "patch" to airports that work with the oldest equipment, according to NATCA. The interim system, developed by Lockheed Martin Corp. and dubbed Ollie, provides a color display and an easy-to-use keyboard that simply plugs into the existing Tracon systems.

Ollie is part of a new STARS deployment approach that the FAA and the controllers have at least conceptually agreed on, said NATCA president Michael McNally. This approach would include placing Ollie at "some critical facilities," such as the New York Tracon, that need new displays because current equipment is failing and replacement parts are not available, McNally said.

A Lockheed Martin spokeswoman confirmed that Ollie is under consideration by the FAA as an interim solution to replace aging displays until the full STARS system is ready.

The new plan also would involve rolling out an "early display configuration" of STARS to sites with low traffic activity and then gradually develop the system in the field to obtain full STARS capability, McNally said. The early version is not the complete STARS system but rather a color display and workstation linked through an interface to the current computer system.

"STARS is a disaster," Michael Fanfalone, the national president of the Professional Airways Systems Specialists, said in a prepared statement. "Despite spending years, and millions, on its development, the [FAA] now acknowledges it cannot be used in high-density airports." PASS represents technical and aviation systems specialists.

The FAA will announce this month the airports that will receive equipment and what that equipment will be. An agency spokesman, however, would not comment on the new deployment approach, including plans for Ollie as detailed by McNally. The agency also is expected to release a new STARS schedule this month.

The FAA and NATCA said they are still committed to STARS.

Rep. Constance Morella (R-Md.), chairwoman of the Technology Subcommittee of the House Science Committee, is "frustrated and disappointed in the continuing [STARS] delay," according to her press secretary, Jonathan Dean. "She's been working to push FAA on this project and get it up and working," Dean said, adding that Morella may request another hearing on STARS, although none is scheduled at this point.

Air traffic controllers have been pushing the FAA to field Ollie since 1997. But their interest in the display system has been heightened by a new report which shows that STARS actually operates more slowly than the antiquated equipment being used by controllers.

"We don't want new equipment that is less than what we have now," said Andy Acres, Washington National Airport's STARS representative for NATCA. "Ollie is quick and easy to understand. Of the controllers that have seen Ollie, you won't find anyone who doesn't like it. There are two Ollie [radar] scopes out there now that could be installed at Washington National tomorrow."

The report, based on a test conducted last month by Lockheed Martin at the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center and witnessed by the FAA and Raytheon, showed that STARS' response times were generally double those of the current display and sometimes are "significantly beyond the FAA's specifications" for operational safety models. The FAA stressed that the test involved the early display configuration, not the full STARS system.

"In developing this early display configuration and in meeting requests for changes that controllers and technicians wanted, we encountered some response times [that] were slow," the FAA spokesman said. "We're working with Raytheon to get those response times back to specification." Full STARS is designed to be and is faster than the current system, he added.

Raytheon said in a press statement that "the report presented a picture that was inaccurate and misleading with regard to the system's speed or response times." In fact, Raytheon maintains, STARS is faster than systems currently in use and has been "successfully tested and used in airports around the world."

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), April 12, 1999.

" FAA officials had staged a dress rehearsal on March 27 and lesser tests on three prior occasions. "

It was staged in the best of all possible worlds - Denver, because it is the newst airport in the US, is the most up-to-date (hardware and software configuration), least changed over the years (there have been no "years"), and most well-documented.

Baggage handling there was a travesty between the airport and the city while under construction - it (baggage handling at Denver) may or may not be year 2000 compliant, but it (baggage handling) will bring an airport to its knees in one day if it fails. (See the latest failure in SouthEast Asia where the airport lost millions of dollars and shutdown for several days when its baggage handling failed.)

This test (per the press release) was useful in what it did. But it was a scripted event for a test that was dry-run 3 times, and already tested on Mar 27. It checked he "hand-off" of data between two preselected machines previously remediated at one site where the best possible configuration existed for data involviong one airplane also pre-selected and already remediated.

Now = remediate the rest of the system, then test it three times, and check all other aircraft and terminals and ground controllers. Check out their power and fuel systems and ......

This was "good" news, in that they are begining to test their _first_ remediated system at their _first_ control station in the second week in April? I though they were 99% complete last September.

Great - any computerized system can repeat a test previously run - all this proved is that "what they previously tested" will work "when they test again under the same conditions."

-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (Cook.R@csaatl.com), April 12, 1999.

Diane, thanks for the post. Would you consider posting this as a new thread.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 12, 1999.

This FAA test shows that only within ONE Air Route Traffic Control Center's jurisdiction, a plane flying at the moment of rollover can still be tracked and monitored. Great news if the world only flies between Denver and Grand Junction. This test is being trumpetted in the mainstream press like the FAA has no more Y2K work left to do now. Yet it's only a sub-systems test of one portion of the whole system. Where's the full-scale, end-to-end testing?

Have there been any Y2K tests of the communications and coordination functions between Denver Center and the adjoining ARTCCs to insure that flight handoff between facilities is possible? What about the act of a pilot calling up Notices To Airmen (NOTAMS) for planning a flight? What about that pilot getting a route weather briefing? Or filing a flight plan?

What if it's an international flight? That's a data-coordination issue with the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and the countries involved as destination and overflight locations. Have they remediated and tested their systems yet?

This piece of news is so blown out of proportion that it's sickening. It's like a bank testing some desktop PCs and the word being spread that they've fixed all their Y2K issues. Just like the NERC test last Friday.

Crap reporting like this is going to add to the public's misunderstanding of the Y2K problem and will add to any negative reactions to failures which do occur. If folks are worried what the population is going to do when they realize they were mislead about whether there is or isn't a Y2K problem, wait until they get pissed- off about being lied to about the few issues they do understand and then were told it was fixed.


-- Wildweasel (vtmldm@epix.net), April 12, 1999.

I got the independant verification about the Y2K test in Denver. All apparently went well (as planned) and apparently, like all good lawyers, the FAA didn't ask a question that it didn't already know the answer to. The actual tests had been conducted weeks prior to the publicized Y2K test and according to an eye witness, the April 11/12 test was simply a staged media event.

A couple of issues with this and other FAA subjects:

STARS: STARS is a gee-whiz piece of automation to replace ARTS in the terminal option. It is a corner stone of advanced automation for the terminal (towers and approach controls) option in the NAS (national airspace system)implementation plan. It's development and subsequent problems have nothing to do with Y2K issues. STARS has been a troubled program for some time now and it's viability has come into question when the CPUs recently slowed down in response to heavy air traffic in field trials. THe FAA would have liked to have STARS on line and in service, that would have saved a bunch of remediation of the ARTS computer systems, but as far as STARS and Y2K, we're talking apples and oranges. The systems that the FAA is working feverishly to replace are the HOST computer systems that are operating well beyond their initial design life.

FAA and Y2K: The Denver test is a piece of fairly good news to me as an aviation user/insider. I believe that there will still be some unpredictable and unforseen glitches despite the best planning but the fact that the FAA can pull it off in one major location indicates that it is possible to pull it off in more areas. I still stand by my previous posts about this issue including why Denver as an ATC test site.

DIA and Y2K: The Denver airport's performance regarding Y2K is the perview and responsibility of the Denver airport authority not the FAA. Again some arguments in this thread are mixing apples and oranges i.e DIA versus FAA. The performance of the various airport systems owned and operated by the airport authority (DIA) may or may not affect air traffic operations (FAA) in Denver. It depends upon the system. The baggage system at DIA will not affect air traffic except at the very extreme, perhaps it may delay individual flights. Runway lighting systems, well that's another story. The Y2K performance issue as it relates to an individual airport will be the respponsibility of the airport authority of that airport be it state, or municipal or private. The FAA only has direct control over air traffic, navigational and landing systems and the systems do not overlap.

Flight safety: Would I fly on January 1, 2000. No I would not and I have advised my family to not fly then either. I don't know what will happen but the last thing controllers need is a scope full of aircraft or a gaggle of planes lining up on final or waiting to depart if systems crump or if communications fail most especially in inclement weather conditions. In that regard it would probably be for the best to have a slower than normal air traffic environment in case of failures, to allow work arounds to be developed, without the pressure of full flight schedules. And as a note of curiosity, the FAA systems operate on GMT so the glitches, if there will be glitches, could show up on December 31 at 0000Z.

-- Ramp Rat (Aviation_R_us@noname.nocity), April 13, 1999.

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