Free Flight Phase 1 Technologies: Progress To Date and Future Challenges
This report presents OIG’s review of FAA’s Free Flight Phase 1 Initiative (FFP1). We found that (1) the Free Flight Program is comparatively well managed, due in part to its limited nature and its “build a little, test a little, deploy a little” approach; and (2) the more complex automated controller tools have made only modest capacity improvements at some locations and have proven to be far more difficult and costly to develop than anticipated. The goal of Free Flight is to increase the capacity and efficiency of the National Airspace System by better managing available airspace.
Because of uncertainty as to what the budget and milestones for capacity-enhancing initiatives should be in light of large and unexpected expenditures for security, we recommended that FAA review Free Flight and the Operational Evolution Plan to assess budgetary priorities and project milestones, and determine whether project priorities or design need to be changed in light of September 11. FAA should review security risks associated with the ultimate goal of Free Flight and determine how those risks will be mitigated.