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?”
Satellite navigation systems
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.
CMC Electronics showcased its new CMA-9000 flight management system (FMS), which also includes radio management. “The -9000 is a derivative of both the -3000, a helicopter cockpit product, and the airline-oriented -900,” FMS program manager Martin Richard explained. It features several search-and-rescue functions, including programmable moving waypoints.
The FAA last month said it is expanding GPS WAAS coverage into Canada and Mexico by adding nine new wide-area augmentation system ground stations in places such as Goose Bay and San Jose del Cabo. The FAA has published about 900 LPV (localizer performance with vertical guidance) approaches in the U.S.
The FAA awarded a $16.7 million contract–which could balloon to $340 million if options are exercised–to Honeywell International to build the first phase of the local-area augmentation system (LAAS) to deliver Category I precision landing systems at major U.S. airports.
After describing its GPS LAAS precision approach system contract as “imminent” for more than six months, the FAA in early May announced its award to Honeywell.
Concerned about attempts by adversaries to jam global positioning satellite system signals–as occurred with only limited success during the recent Iraq conflict–the U.S. Air Force is moving ahead with plans to field a new-generation constellation of satellites, called GPS III. After a months-long logjam, the Air Force next month will begin accepting requests for proposals to develop and deploy the satellites sometime between 2010 and 2013.
Galileo, Europe’s $4.2 billion rival to GPS, is in jeopardy of cancellation following clashes between EU nations over project budgeting, officials said. Several EU nations have voiced concern about Galileo’s high cost, complaining they have been left out of commercial bidding negotiations. The first Galileo satellites need to be launched by 2005 or Europe may have to forfeit frequencies allotted by the International Telecommunications Union.
In 1997 the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection, which was charged with examining threats to our national security, recommended an assessment be made of the vulnerability of the U.S. transportation infrastructure if it had to rely on GPS.
Rockwell Collins has received the industry’s first TSO approval for a multi-mode receiver (MMR) with local-area augmentation system (LAAS) functionality, the avionics maker announced last month. The Collins GLU-925 MMR is the first to include LAAS and GPS landing system (GLS) capability in addition to ILS mode.