WAAS Timeline Stretches Some More

 - October 9, 2007, 6:26 AM

The woes experienced by builders of the wide-area augmentation system (WAAS) are nothing new to those who have followed the development of the satellite-navigation project over the last decade. In fact, it has become almost cliché to use woe and WAAS in the same sentence. So it’s not surprising to learn that a program one senator once referred to as a “$4 billion boondoggle” has lost luster over time. A recently released chronology of WAAS projections listed the changing operational expectations announced after successive top-level reviews since 1994. In that year, WAAS was predicted to provide Cat I service over 50 percent of the continental U.S. by 1997, with full coverage by 2000. Four years later, in 1998, the 50-percent Cat I forecast had slipped two years to 1999, with 100-percent coverage promised by last year. In 1999, 50-percent projections drifted to 2000, but full coverage wasn’t anticipated until 2007. By 2000, Cat I disappeared from the forecast altogether and was replaced by the prediction of 80-percent Lnav/Vnav by this year, with 100-percent coverage “to be determined.” Last year, 80-percent Lnav/Vnav slid a further 12 months to next year, although Cat I reappeared in the forecast, starting in 2007. The irony over the past several years is that WAAS has been demonstrated to work well–just not well enough.