The FAA awarded a $16.7 million contract–which could balloon to $340 million if options are exercised–to Honeywell International to build the first phase of the local-area augmentation system (LAAS) to deliver Category I precision landing systems at major U.S. airports. If phase two is ordered, the first Cat I LAAS units will be installed at Chicago O’Hare; Houston Intercontinental; Juneau, Alaska; Memphis, Tenn.; Phoenix; and Seattle airports. The first system is scheduled to be operational by late 2006.
The initial phase provides for the software and hardware design of the Cat I LAAS. The phase two and phase three contract options cover the development and production of the Cat I system. Cat I provides guidance down to 200 feet and one-half mile.
The contract was originally scheduled for an award last September, but was restructured to minimize program financial and technical risks by separating the design and development phases.
LAAS is expected to provide a significant improvement in aircraft and airport operations. The FAA said the benefits of the LAAS include:
• A single LAAS will provide precision landing service for most runways at an airport;
• Approaches that will avoid obstacles, restricted airspace, noise-sensitive areas or congested airspace can be transmitted directly to each equipped aircraft; and
• LAAS can be installed at some airports where conventional landing systems cannot be used because of space or radio-frequency spectrum constraints.
“LAAS will enhance the safety and efficiency of air travel by increasing the accuracy, availability, continuity and integrity of the information received from the GPS constellation,” said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. “LAAS represents the FAA’s continued transition from a ground-based navigation system to one that integrates aircraft performance and satellite technology.”