Flight-testing at Toulouse, France, and Frankfurt, Germany, has proved that a reliable alternative to an ILS signal can be produced with a GNSS constellation and single-frequency input signal. Eurocontrol’s Sesar air traffic management research team worked with equipment manufacturers Thales, Indra-Navia, Honeywell and Thales Avionics using a ground-based augmentation system (GBAS). Further testing at both airports is expected to resume in the middle of next year.
Local Area Augmentation System
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.
Several years ago, when satellites were being touted as aviation’s sole means of navigation from takeoff to touchdown, former FAA Administrator Langhorne Bond painted a picture of a dark winter’s night with below-limits weather up and down the east coast. In that scenario, he stated, terrorist GPS jammers could become “weapons of mass destruction.” The FAA shrugged it off as unfounded speculation.
For years the world’s aviation authorities have been preparing for the transition to a re-imagined operating environment where an array of new technologies–placed on the ground, in space and in the cockpit–can be applied to the daunting task of funneling thousands more airplanes from departure to destination each day without encountering the choke points that inevitably would arise from using a global navigation infrastructure developed when
Honeywell’s SmartPath precision-landing system yesterday became the only ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) to receive FAA approval. GBAS monitors GPS signals to detect errors and augment accuracy by transmitting correction messages to aircraft, providing precision-approach guidance to all qualifying runways at an airport.
When the Australians decide to go for something, they really go for it. Example: the FAA awarded its nationwide automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) contract in 2007. The Aussies did it more than three years earlier.
GPS-based Laas and Jpals landing system developments are moving ahead for civil and military operations. Laas, the local-area augmentation system (or, in ICAO-ese, GBAS, for ground-based augmentation system), is intended eventually to replace civil ILS Cat III, while Jpals (joint precision approach and landing system) will provide all-weather autoland guidance for the Navy’s aircraft and UAVs.
The FAA on August 15 granted the U.S. Air Force a certificate of authorization (COA) to fly its Global Hawk unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) throughout the National Airspace System (NAS), in support of homeland defense missions. The turbofan-powered, DC-3-size Global Hawk is a high-altitude (FL500+) long-range (U.S.
Even though Congress exempted the FAA from standard procurement rules in 1996, the agency remains mired in cost overruns and schedule slippages on many of its major acquisitions, including the wide-area augmentation system (WAAS), standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars), local-area augmentation system (LAAS) and integrated terminal weather system (ITWS).
At recent public hearings in Washington, D.C., and Albuquerque, N.M., DOD and DOT representatives reviewed the departments’ policies toward the provision of radionavigation services to the U.S. civil user community between now and 2020. The hearings were held to solicit user comments on those policies before publication of this year’s federal radionavigation plan (FRP), which will be available by year-end.
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