Laas and Jpals:new landing systems on the horizon

 - June 3, 2009, 4:58 AM

GPS-based Laas and Jpals landing system developments are moving ahead for civil and military operations. Laas, the local-area augmentation system (or, in ICAO-ese, GBAS, for ground-based augmentation system), is intended eventually to replace civil ILS Cat III, while Jpals (joint precision approach and landing system) will provide all-weather autoland guidance for the Navy’s aircraft and UAVs.

Honeywell has been developing Laas for several years and has installed prototype Cat I systems in the U.S., Europe and Australia. A system purchased by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is due to be installed on Newark Liberty International’s Runway 29 in the fourth quarter of this year. The system, called SmartPath by Honeywell, is expected to receive FAA certification this summer.

The first user at Newark will be Continental Airlines, but AIN understands from Honeywell that it will be a public facility with approach-plate availability. It is unclear whether this will occur immediately after the installation has been flight checked, or if the FAA will want to observe a shakedown period for a few months following Continental’s initial operations. However, the system has already seen extensive use at Australia’s Sydney airport, where Qantas has equipped most of its Boeing 737 fleet and reports excellent results.

With a budget approaching $2 billion, Jpals is expected to become the mother of all landing systems. Anticipating that Jpals will be adopted as the standard for all DoD aircraft, Raytheon is currently engaged in a five-year prototype development program for the particularly demanding shipboard environment, where the guidance system must compensate for the rolling and pitching deck of aircraft carriers and smaller vessels operating UAVs.

Eager to eliminate overshoots or “bolters,” the Navy is making autoland
a key requirement for shipboard Jpals,
and the capability will require unique IRS/GPS hybrid avionics and high-integrity datalinks.

Following prototype acceptance, development of less sophisticated land-based fixed and lightweight portable units will begin. Unusually, the Navy is the authority for the entire DoD program, embracing all four services, with completion forecast some time after 2020. Reaching that agreement, according to an industry source, was a monumental step all of its own.