The Associated Press May 26, 2010, 11:05AM ET

FAA awards 3 NextGen contracts worth up to $4.4B

The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday it awarded three contracts for its new air traffic control system worth a total of up to $4.4 billion.

Under the contracts, Boeing Co., General Dynamics Corp. and ITT Corp. will perform large-scale demonstrations to see how procedures and technologies of the new system -- called Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen -- can be incorporated into the current air traffic system.

The contracts will be carried out over a 10-year period.

NextGen, which features a satellite-based system to track planes, will replace the current radar-based air traffic control system, which relies on World War II-era technology.

The three companies will also develop and rollout new weather tracking services. NextGen weather imaging will allow pilots and controllers to see bad weather at different altitudes.

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