If ever there was a Comeback Kid in avionics, it would have to be the FAA’s wide area augmentation system (Waas). Heralded by the agency in 1994 as the future Swiss Army knife of navigation, Waas was going to bring greater accuracy and enhanced reliability to the sometimes unpredictable GPS and, in so doing, promised a new era where satellites would replace not only the nation’s NDBs and VORs, but also the more than 600 Category 1 ILS installations in the National Airspace System at the time. Development would cost more than $300 million, and take about four years.
Rockwell Collins has won separate contracts from China’s Xiamen Airlines and China Southern Airlines involving several of its avionics systems, including its Multi-Scan Threat Detection Radar and GLU-925 Multi-Mode Receiver (MMR).
The FAA has released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would allow many more operators to continue flying below decision altitude/decision height or minimum descent altitude (DA/DH or MDA) during IMC when equipped with enhanced flight vision systems (EFVS). Such systems generally use infrared sensors to deliver real-time images of the external view to cockpit displays, and the new rules would not apply to synthetic vision systems. Millimeter-wave radar could also be used for future EFVS operations.
An AINSafety story published last year demonstrated that a relatively straightforward GPS approach can be fraught with danger even when pilots precisely follow the instrument approach plate. Our editors began thinking about what readers might regard as their most challenging instrument approaches.
Miami Approach Control recently reissued guidance on how it plans to handle practice instrument approach requests for aircraft in the local area. For example, standard IFR separation will be applied to all aircraft. Aircraft requesting a procedure turn or a traditional holding pattern are expected to inform the approach controller on initial contact. The facility also reminds pilots that clearance for an approach does not authorize the aircraft to fly the published missed approach without previous authorization.
Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee’s preliminary report on the April 13 Lion Air accident in Bali appears to leave little doubt that pilot error was the primary cause, specifically a failure by the crew to follow standard instrument approach procedures.
From May 2, the FAA will start publishing new instrument approach plates that include an enlarged segment of airspace to protect aircraft during circling approaches. The new airspace also offers pilots additional obstacle clearance while considering their MSL altitude above the MDA, which affects true airspeed.
The boundaries of protected airspace for circling approaches are defined by arcs drawn from the threshold of each runway at an airport. The larger the aircraft, the larger the arc.
The FAA will begin publishing instrument approaches that use larger circling-approach airspace dimensions on May 2, addressing industry safety groups’ assertions that the radii were “insufficient to contain large, jet transport airplanes during the circle-to-land maneuver,” according to NBAA.
Bill Antwerp of Gaffney, S.C., owns and flies a pristine Bell 407 with a newly installed Cobham HeliSAS stability and augmentation system and autopilot. With another pilot, he flew his helicopter from his home in South Carolina to Las Vegas for Heli-Expo ’13. At his first fuel stop, he texted Jamie Luster, director of sales and marketing of Cobham Avionics in Mineral Wells, Texas, saying, “I love the autopilot.”
Brunswick Executive Airport (BXM) in Maine is receiving a $25 million upgrade via the FAA’s Military Airport Program. Improvements include energy-efficient lighting systems for the single active runway (1R/19L), freshly painted markers and new signs to improve taxiing guidance for pilots. Construction has begun on 20 T hangars, and a segmented circle is also in the works. The airport has also acquired new snow removal equipment. Instrument approaches (ILS and GPS) and AWOS are now up and running. Meanwhile, some taxiways have been renamed to comply with current FAA standards.