Fri, Nov 07, 2008
And More GPS-Based Approaches Are Coming
While the technology is still fairly new, many pilots have at
least limited experience flying a Wide Area Augmentation System
approach. It's one of the few tangible benefits seen so far in the
Federal Aviation Administration's push towards its purported
"NextGen" air traffic control system... and, in September it passed
a major milestone.
The FAA says the agency has now published 1,333 Localizer
Performance with Vertical guidance (LPV) approach procedures, which
are based on the WAAS space-based navigation system commissioned in
2003. The number of published approach procedures based on WAAS has
now surpassed the number of approach procedures based on its
ground-based predecessor, the Category-I Instrument Landing System
In addition to the greater precision and reliability over
ground-based instrument approach equipment with WAAS, the FAA also
notes there is no need for the FAA to install and maintain
navigation equipment at an airport, unlike an ILS. Additionally,
safety is improved as more aircraft are provided with
vertically-guided approaches and improved flight planning options
enabled by WAAS.
"This is clearly a turning point for aviation and the way pilots
navigate," the FAA said of the milestone.
For the past 60 years, Category-I ILS has been used at airports
throughout the National Airspace System (NAS) to guide aircraft to
as low as 200 feet above the runway surface. WAAS, commissioned
five years ago, now provides this same capability... but at more
The FAA says WAAS LPVs can currently be found at 833 airports...
and that number of WAAS LPVs continues to grow, with the goal of
500 new WAAS procedures each year until every qualified runway in
the NAS has one.
WAAS has enabled a new approach capability which will be
introduced in 2009, the FAA added.
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