American Airlines has spent some $400 million in the past few years to retrofit its existing fleet for the planned NextGen flight environment in the U.S. But at this stage it has not seen the operational benefits it had hoped for, according to the airline’s director of airspace modernization and advanced technologies.
As part of continued cost cutting by the U.S. federal government, the FAA has announced plans to begin decommissioning some instrument approach procedures (IAP) to save on maintenance costs of ground-based navaids. The agency said the plan also stems from a near doubling of new IAPs in the past decade thanks to advances in satellite-based approach systems.
The captain of an Embraer ERJ-145 has highlighted what he says was a “serious threat to flight safety” caused by the actions of air traffic controllers during an approach to Charlotte Douglas International Airport (KCLT) last January.
According to testimony recently given through NASA’s confidential aviation safety reporting system (ASRS), the flight in low-visibility conditions (reported as one quarter mile) encountered radar altimeter problems that eventually caused the crew to miss their first Category II ILS approach at CLT and head to an alternate.
The FAA issued a recommendation on July 28 to the flight crew of non-U.S. airlines flying into San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to back up a visual arrival by using a GPS approach normally stored in the aircraft’s flight management system (FMS). The onboard approaches can generate a virtual glideslope during visual approaches regardless of the status of ground-based electronics.
South Korea has been subject to annual GPS jamming attacks by its North Korean neighbor since 2010. Over that period, jamming has extended over longer periods, with the longest being a continuous 16-day attack, employing various frequencies, techniques and signal strengths. As the jamming periods increased each year, they affected more and more GPS users. Last year, South Korean officials estimated that 1,016 aircraft lost GPS signals, as did 254 ships and a large number of cellphone towers.
Mercy One helicopter emergency medical services at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, one of the first HEMS operators certified to fly Waas low-level IFR routes, including approaches to local hospitals, recently added a second Waas-capable Bell 429 to its fleet. These IFR routes keep helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft from mixing in IFR airspace. Three of the hospital helipad approaches are Waas-based while another is an approach to a helipad in Stuart, Iowa, that is used as a rendezvous for helicopters and ground ambulances from surrounding counties.
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).
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.
Century Flight Systems has ramped up autopilot certification activities and recently received STCs for Century 4000 installations in most Piper Cherokees and Saratogas. The company also received STCs for most Cessna 182s as well as the 421B and 421C twins. Prices for the C4000 start at $19,995.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has approved both an RNP approach to an ILS and an RNP AR (authorization required) approach for Zhangjiajie Airport (ZDGY) in southeastern China to help increase its capacity. Surrounded by rugged mountainous terrain, the airport sits in the middle of what the country’s Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (Canso) calls “complex airspace that limits operations at peak hours for both inbound and outbound traffic.”