Avionics Update: WAAS passes key 60-day test

 - May 8, 2008, 5:21 AM

The Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) successfully passed a critical 60-day test that prime contractor Raytheon said proves the reliability of the signals for ILS-like approach procedures to thousands of airports not served by precision instrument approaches. WAAS could be approved for IFR operations as early as next summer–a proposal that has the support of AOPA–in spite of a current implementation schedule that calls for the system to come online next December. “This new technology should be in the hands of the community as soon as possible,” said Randy Kenagy, AOPA director of advanced technology. There’s no reason to wait for the scheduled implementation date, he said, when the system has been proven to work now. Avionics makers appear to have been caught somewhat flat-footed, however, with most not anticipating bringing IFR WAAS-capable products to the market until 2004. WAAS improves the accuracy, integrity and reliability of GPS signals, providing far better vertical guidance than GPS alone. Once WAAS is approved for IFR operations, aircraft equipped with WAAS-approved GPS receivers will be able to fly to lower Lnav/Vnav minimums and on so-called LPV (lateral precision with vertical guidance) approaches, the first of which are scheduled for publication next year.