By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Thursday it awarded Verizon Communications' business networking unit a contract worth up to $2.4 billion over 15 years as the agency looks to modernize its systems.
Verizon will design, build and operate the FAA’s new next-generation communications platform. The telecom company said it will "build the FAA a dynamic, highly available and secure enterprise network to support all of the agency's mission critical applications across the National Airspace System."
Verizon said the new infrastructure will support all of the agency's mission critical applications across the National Airspace System, which includes providing Air Traffic Management to more than 45,000 daily flights and 2.9 million airline passengers traveling across 29 million square miles that make up the U.S. national airspace system.
Verizon Business CEO Kyle Malady said the project would help lead the FAA through "a telecommunications infrastructure transformation that utilizes the latest advances in technology and networking solutions."
He added the it would provide "dynamic services and bandwidth provisioning, to improved insight and visibility into network service configuration and operation."
The FAA has said it needs to spend modernize many outdated systems.
In January, the outage of a key pilot messaging database prompted a nationwide groundstop of U.S. passenger traffic, the first since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
A 2021 Transportation Department Office of Inspection General report repeatedly cited challenges in the FAA's multi-billion dollar Next Generation Air Transportation System infrastructure project.
Verizon and airlines clashed in late 2021 and early 2022 over plans to deploy 5G C-Band service near airports but ultimately struck a voluntary agreement to avert flight disruptions.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Alistair Bell)