While the GPS wide-area augmentation system (WAAS) is likely to be commissioned for public use in July, the local-area augmentation system (LAAS) has fallen back by 12 months, with commissioning of the first installation now forecast in late 2005. This setback for LAAS was revealed to attendees at a December briefing given by FAA’s Satellite Operational Implementation Team (SOIT).
Wide Area Augmentation System
Last year in Toulouse, France, Eurocopter completed two series of tests that demonstrated the feasibility of satellite-navigation precision approaches for helicopters. Europe, which lags behind the U.S. in creating satnav nonprecision approaches for helicopters, has almost completed some research toward addressing that imbalance.
Is ILS, aviation’s trusted friend for the past half century, now seeing its last days? Probably not. Some observers believe it has many years of life ahead of it, yet newer technologies are slowly entering the scene, in such diverse settings as Norway’s fjords, Heathrow’s jam-packed runways, the icy wastes of Antarctica and at several major U.S. hubs.
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?”
While FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said required navigation performance (RNP) is receiving broad support in the U.S. and abroad, she acknowledged there is no one-size-fits-all navigation concept. The question she posed is “How do we balance finite resources in terms of WAAS/LAAS?”
The Garmin GNS 480 all-in-one GPS/navcom is now approved for primary-means WAAS navigation and localizer precision with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches. According to Garmin, pilots flying with the $11,995 unit will be able to make “ILS-like” approaches into thousands of U.S. airports not served by ILS once the FAA implements LPV procedures.
L-3 Communications Avionics Systems last month announced TSO approval for the Model 8100 terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS), clearing the way for deliveries of the $12,500 unit. The class-B system differentiates itself from other TAWS units on the market by including a remote WAAS GPS receiver, used for deriving position and altitude.
Chelton Flight Systems has received FAA STC approval to install its FlightLogic synthetic-vision EFIS in several models of the Eurocopter AS 350 AStar and AS 355 TwinStar and the Bell 407.
Released last month, the 2005 Federal Radionavigation Plan (FRP)–a joint production of the DOT, DOD and the Department of Homeland Security–provides a useful guide to what air navigation will be like between now and 2020. Of course, federal crystal balls occasionally can be cloudy, especially when they peer 14 years into the future.
Garmin last month said it has gained its first STC covering installation of a retrofit version of the G1000 avionics system. Approved in the King Air C90A/GT, the G1000 suite integrates primary flight information, navigation data, communications, terrain awareness, traffic, weather and engine instruments on a 15-inch-diagonal multifunction display and two 10.4-inch primary flight displays.