Universal Begins Flight Testsof WAAS-capable FMS

 - September 21, 2006, 5:45 AM

Universal Avionics last month said it flew its first test flight with the new “W” series flight-management system (FMS) designed for compatibility with the wide-area augmentation system (WAAS). During the 3.5-hour trip aloft in the company’s King Air 350 advanced avionics test platform, the crew conducted five WAAS instrument approaches at Farmington Airport in New Mexico using a Universal UNS-1Fw FMS, the new designation for the WAAS-enabled UNS-1F.

Flight department manager and pilot Jerry Harkin said each of the approaches “split the runway centerline every time.” He described the accuracy of the WAAS equipment as being “far better than ever observed” during standard GPS approaches flown with Universal FMS equipment. The King Air crew flew a sixth WAAS approach upon their return to home base at Tucson, Ariz. That approach, to Runway 29R, was commissioned on February 16. Several hundred more WAAS approaches are expected to become available this year, according to the FAA.

Universal plans to continue tests of its WAAS FMS software this spring and summer, with certificationof the UNS-1Ew, -1Fw and -1Lw models anticipated by year-end.