L3Harris’ FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) team expanded the FAA’s remote administrative communication capacity from 12,000 to 36,000 remote concurrent users during COVID-19 to support the agency’s remote work capability. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations around the world were faced with the challenge of keeping employees safe while continuing to conduct business, if at all possible. States began issuing stay-at-home orders to slow the rapid disease spreading. And, like other essential businesses, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was faced with finding new methods of work to reduce employee exposure.

Many companies started implementing alternating shift hours to reduce the number of workers on site or implementing remote work options where technology allowed. As an essential business, the FAA needed to keep as many people working as possible to keep operations running. One option was to evaluate the potential to allow employees to work remotely. The FAA turned to L3Harris for support.

L3Harris manages the FTI network that consists of two dedicated communication networks, an Operational network and an Administrative network. The Administrative network is used for FAA’s daily activities to manage their business functions.

Collaborative Approach

In mid-February, as COVID-19 began to spread in the U.S., L3Harris worked with the FAA to investigate the potential to increase the capacity of the existing FTI Remote Access Capability, or FRAC. The system could accommodate up to 12,000 periodic remote users, but not all employees. As the FAA’s prime contractor, L3Harris began proactively planning the necessary steps to increase FRAC capacity, knowing that if the FAA needed it, it would be a rapid turnaround.

Almost overnight, the FRAC that was previously used by less than 5,000 concurrent users, suddenly became a top priority across the organization.

As mandatory stay-at-home orders were issued in states across the country, the FAA relied on L3Harris to quickly implement the expansion of the Administrative network to enable employees to work remotely. Because of the proactive planning and preparations, strong relationships with telecommunications vendors, and the team’s collaborative spirit, L3Harris was able to implement the expansion quickly. Within five business days, L3Harris added equipment and increased wide-area-network capacity to deliver a test capability serving twice the existing concurrent users. Following the successful test, L3Harris deployed additional equipment and tripled the network capacity to serve 36,000 concurrent remote users.  

Success Factors

The success of this rapid response implementation is attributed to our trusted relationship with the FAA, the dedication of our FTI team in delivering excellence, and to our vendors who prioritized this project to make things happen quickly. L3Harris performed bandwidth and equipment upgrades, on-site installations, remote configuration changes, delivered customized reporting dashboards, and worked with vendors to expedite services. CenturyLink delivered five times the internet service capacity in just five days to ensure the success of this vital network expansion. Pulse Secure supplied additional licenses and appliances in a short period of time.

Impact to Customer

The hard work, dedication and proactive planning of L3Harris culminated in the successful network expansion that enabled 36,000 FAA employees to work from home. FAA operations continued as FRAC users successfully worked from home, out of harm’s way.

With nearly 20 years of service to support the FAA in providing their trusted private communications network, L3Harris is proud to deliver new technologies and innovations to support FTI and to help the FAA fulfill its mission to maintain the safest and most secure airspace in the world.