In 1994 Steve Hickok began the initial flight tests that led to development and implementation of the first FAA-approved GPS Rnav helicopter instrument approaches.
Satellite navigation systems
Horizon Air on December 30 became the first scheduled-service passenger carrier to operate a flight using wide area augmentation system (Waas) technology. Equipped with dual Universal Avionics UNS-1Ew flight management systems, Horizon’s only Waas-capable 76-seat Bombardier Q400 carried out the trailblazing mission on a flight from Portland to Seattle.
The French helicopter industry is endeavoring to catch up with the U.S. in satellite-aided precision approaches, as it strives to enable landings and takeoffs at hospitals in IMC. The ultimate aim is to build a solid network of inter-hospital low-altitude IFR routes, according to participants at a forum held by the Toulouse-based air and space academy late last year.
The U.S. Coast Guard and its parent, the Department of Homeland Security, on January 7 announced that U.S. loran-C stations will be progressively shut down between February and October, since everyone now uses GPS for navigation. The banks and the communications industry also moved from loran to the slightly more accurate GPS for split-second transaction timing for our ATMs and our cellphones.
The U.S. Coast Guard and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, announced earlier this month that loran-C stations in the U.S. will be progressively shut down between next month and October. The U.S. considers maintaining its loran station network, costing $36 million per year, unaffordable.
Honeywell’s SmartPath precision-landing system recently 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.
Poised to chip away at flight-planning monolith Universal, Air Routing unveils a new suite of online flight-planning products and services this month. Existing clients can use the new system October 1; new clients can sign up at the NBAA Convention later this month.
Rockwell Collins last month wrapped up flight testing of a WAAS/LPV (wide-area augmentation system/localizer performance with vertical guidance) upgrade for the Pro Line 21 avionics system in the Hawker 800XP. The STC issued last month will allow Hawker 800XP operators equipped with Pro Line 21 to take advantage of the more than 1,500 WAAS/LPV approaches created so far.
Testifying before Congress in May, Stanford University professor Brad Parkinson–the chief architect of GPS and the original GPS program manager before his retirement from the USAF–echoed the concern of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that there will be insufficient backup satellites to fill gaps in the constellation before the DOD’s forecast 2014 launches of its next-generation GPS III units. (see AIN, June, page one.)
One key benefit of the future GPS III satellites that the DOD plans to launch in 2014 is that they will transmit a second civil aviation signal, called L-5, that new receivers will compare with today’s L-1 civil signals to eliminate ionospheric interference, the last major cause of GPS errors.