NASA’s SATS Initiative Could Pay Dividends for Business Aviation

 - October 23, 2006, 10:09 AM

People tend to think of NASA’s Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) project as a far-fetched plan to put an airplane in every garage and turn the skies of America into tomorrow’s commuter byways. The truth is the SATS program will bring GPS-based “highway in the sky” instrument approaches with lower minimums to hundreds of smaller airports, many of them used today by business aircraft.

Andrews-Murphy Airport (RHP) in Andrews, N.C., is one of five airports NASA selected to participate in the SATS program. Despite the fact that RHP has a 5,500-foot-long runway, its current Rnav-GPS approach can do no better than get aircraft down to 2,329 feet above airport elevation when the weather turns bad. New types of GPS approaches envisioned by NASA would provide precision-like guidance down to the runway. If that indeed happens, it could change the face of business aviation by making more airports attractive bases for bizjets, experts say.