At press time, bidders for the FAA’s Cat I local-area augmentation system (LAAS) ground station contract were awaiting a statement from the agency as to whether the program would proceed with a contract award, valued at around $800 million. After several delays during the summer, FAA officials advised the two bidders–one team being Raytheon and the French navaid company Thales (which earlier had acquired U.S.
The recent successful completion of a 60-day continuous performance test of the FAA’s wide-area augmentation system (WAAS) is expected to clear the way for full IFR use of the satellite navigation concept starting late next year. The question now is whether anyone will be able to use it.
The FAA is planning to issue an AD to address what it says are potential safety hazards with the popular Garmin GNS 430 combination GPS/navcom. The agency said external electrical noise from autopilots and other cockpit systems could cause the electronic CDI/HSI in the unit to display inaccurate course deviations.
The business and commuter aircraft products business of Trimble Navigation has been purchased by newly established FreeFlight Systems, a sister company of Aircraft Systems & Manufacturing of Georgetown, Texas. Business aviation veteran Steve Williams is president of FreeFlight Systems, which will be based in Waco, Texas.
The October announcement by Raytheon that it had won a Department of Defense contract–potentially worth $25 million–to develop next-generation anti-jamming systems for GPS underlines security specialists’ concern that GPS is now “an attractive target” for terrorists.
At press time, technical experts from the FAA, the U.S. Coast Guard and researchers from Ohio and Stanford Universities were due to begin a two-week flight-test program in Alaska to assess the use of loran transmitters to send out GPS WAAS messages across the state.
Having secured solid footing in GA markets, Garmin announced it is introducing a new 16-watt com version of its GNC 420, GNS 430 and GNS 530 moving-map navcoms, now designated as “A” models. The new configuration will allow the units to transmit and receive at higher altitudes, a feature Garmin expects to entice more buyers from the corporate ranks.
The FAA is preparing publication of the first LPV (lateral precision with vertical guidance) approaches, a new type of precision approach procedure designed specifically for WAAS. The hallmarks of LPV are lower landing minimums than Lnav/Vnav (250 ft and three-quarters of a mile visibility) and signals that are compatible only with IFR-approved WAAS receivers.
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.
At press time, the FAA’s GPS local-area augmentation system (LAAS) appeared to be hanging in the balance while agency officials were attempting to determine whether there really was a firm industry need for the system.