Horizon Air on December 30 became the first scheduled-service passenger carrier to operate a flight using wide area augmentation system (Waas) technology. Equipped with dual Universal Avionics UNS-1Ew flight management systems, Horizon’s only Waas-capable 76-seat Bombardier Q400 carried out the trailblazing mission on a flight from Portland to Seattle.
Using the new Waas instrument approach, known as “localizer performance with vertical guidance” (LPV), the Horizon Q400 can land at any airport with an updated navigation database. U.S. airspace contains more LPV approaches than instrument landing system (ILS) approaches, which involve the use of older, ground-based radio signal systems for landings in lower-visibility weather.
The FAA has agreed to support Waas upgrades on six more Horizon Q400s. In 2006 Horizon became the first regional carrier certified for RNP approaches, which use onboard nav equipment and GPS. Waas uses additional satellites that monitor GPS signals and corrects for any errors in GPS satellite position.