FAA Maps the Skies With Oracle

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) selected Oracle Database 10g and Oracle 10g Spatial to create precise electronic maps of the skies. These complex geographic information systems provide pilots with instrument flight procedures to help them safely navigate airspace.

Aviation System Standards, a department within the FAA, produces more than 10 million individual national airspace charting products per year for use by military, commercial and private aviators.

The FAA chose select Oracle products to support automating the instrument procedure development and distribution process to produce superior products for use by the aviation community. The scalability and spatial functions of Oracle’s offerings will allow the FAA to manage geospatial data and produce charting that evolves with the changing terrain.

“Data integrity in our business is directly related to safety. Our approach with these systems is to maintain zero tolerance for inaccuracy and provide automation for updates to the National Airspace System,” said Tom Accardi, Director of Aviation System Standards, FAA. “We are extremely proud of our development team’s work and our recent ISO certified flight procedures processes.”

‘Highways in the Sky’

The FAA’s airspace navigation system includes onramps, offramps and “highways in the sky.” Continuous maintenance is required to keep flight procedures current with new obstructions to airspace such as cell-phone towers and high-rise buildings.

With Oracle Database 10g’s spatial functionality, including GeoRaster and vector data capabilities, the FAA will be able to consolidate aeronautical information into a virtual data store. Oracle Application Server 10g and Oracle MapViewer are important in enabling the FAA to quickly identify which flight routes are affected by a new structure and assist in taking the necessary steps to help keep the airways flowing safely.

Beyond increasing flight safety and improving processes, the information stored in the FAA’s spatially enabled database will provide other federal agencies with valuable data. For example, other government organizations supporting programs with similar processes could layer specific geographic and non-geographic information they manage to create more accurate intelligence views and track anomalous patterns.

A Complex Process Simplified

Aviation System Standards publishes new flight procedures every 56 days and issues change notices every 28 days. The FAA is moving away from manual processes that result in new paper charts for distribution.

With Oracle products, the entire process is becoming automated. Previous versions of the procedures will be stored in FAA systems, changes to the airspace and flight routes will be managed electronically, and new chart generation will be automated.

Data integration, process tracking and spatial referencing will help Aviation System Standards simplify production and maintenance of flight procedures. This automation will remove potential for manual errors, reduce time to chart delivery and increase work capacity.

Multiple applications capture data relevant to the chart creation process. The FAA selected the Web services capabilities of Oracle Application Server 10g to integrate the numerous data sources, improve data accuracy and avoid redundancy. In addition, Web services will allow Aviation System Standards to share data with other applications and organizations that require spatial information.

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