While the GPS wide-area augmentation system (WAAS) is likely to be commissioned for public use in July, the local-area augmentation system (LAAS) has fallen back by 12 months, with commissioning of the first installation now forecast in late 2005. This setback for LAAS was revealed to attendees at a December briefing given by FAA’s Satellite Operational Implementation Team (SOIT).
Garmin announced the availability of fault-detection and exclusion (FDE) software for its GNS 430/530 GPS/navcom radios. According to a spokesman, FDE uses a mathematical algorithm to monitor the accuracy and reliability of GPS signals. Designed to detect erroneous GPS data, the software automatically excludes that data from the active navigation solution.
Last year in Toulouse, France, Eurocopter completed two series of tests that demonstrated the feasibility of satellite-navigation precision approaches for helicopters. Europe, which lags behind the U.S. in creating satnav nonprecision approaches for helicopters, has almost completed some research toward addressing that imbalance.
Is ILS, aviation’s trusted friend for the past half century, now seeing its last days? Probably not. Some observers believe it has many years of life ahead of it, yet newer technologies are slowly entering the scene, in such diverse settings as Norway’s fjords, Heathrow’s jam-packed runways, the icy wastes of Antarctica and at several major U.S. hubs.
It took several years for the U.S. and the European Union to reach agreement about satellite navigation systems, but the cooperation agreement the parties signed in June that paves the way for the Galileo and GPS satellite navigation systems should be beneficial to both sides, and to aviation worldwide.
At the FAA’s September International Aviation Safety Forum near Washington, the agency included a discussion session entitled “WAAS or LAAS, which is it?” An explanatory note in the agenda stated that “The FAA is investing in both, but industry experts are divided over the safety issues and benefits. What are the costs and benefits of WAAS? LAAS? Which one should we be investing in?”
While FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said required navigation performance (RNP) is receiving broad support in the U.S. and abroad, she acknowledged there is no one-size-fits-all navigation concept. The question she posed is “How do we balance finite resources in terms of WAAS/LAAS?”
The Garmin GNS 480 all-in-one GPS/navcom is now approved for primary-means WAAS navigation and localizer precision with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches. According to Garmin, pilots flying with the $11,995 unit will be able to make “ILS-like” approaches into thousands of U.S. airports not served by ILS once the FAA implements LPV procedures.
Much positive news about the future of civil air navigation broke late last year. Russia and Europe signed agreements to secure the future of their respective satnav systems, Russia’s GPS-like global navigation satellite system (Glonass) and Europe’s Galileo; the White House Office of Science and Technology published a U.S.
Garmin has added a long list of aviation-specific applications to its iQue 3600 Palm-powered personal digital assistant (PDA) to create a multitask handheld GPS navigator for pilots. The iQue 3600a comes pre-loaded with terrain warning software, Jeppesen navigation database and an electronic logbook, in addition to standard automotive turn-by-turn direction software and other applications.