The probable cause of the Nov. 22, 2004 crash of a Gulfstream III during an attempted ILS Runway 4 approach to William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, according to the NTSB, “was the flight crew’s failure to adequately monitor and cross-check the flight instruments during the approach.
The 70-seat Embraer 170 regional jet has received certification from Brazilian aviation authority Centro Tecnico Aeroespacial and from the European Aviation Safety Agency to perform Category IIIa (CAT IIIa autolanding) operations. CAT IIIa autolanding requires an autopilot system to safely land the airplane at low visibility (600 ft or 200 meters runway visual range) and in adverse weather conditions.
The Department of Defense (DOD) recently unveiled its program for JPALS, the joint precision approach and landing system. The DOD describes JPALS–which is similar to, and compatible with, the FAA’s GPS local area augmentation system (LAAS), with the addition of a few military bells and whistles–as a critical future system for all Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines aircraft.
Landings to below Cat I and II ILS minimums have been possible for more than three decades, but the price of admission until recently has been autoland certification of the aircraft and crew.