July 11, 2003

Satellite Navigation System Achieves Program Milestone

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has commissioned the latest satellite navigation system for instrument flight use. The Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) enhances the accuracy and reliability of the global positioning system (GPS) and transmits horizontal and vertical guidance capability. Today’s program milestone for WAAS is the first step toward opening pilot access to more than 500 published satellite runway procedures at more than 200 U.S. airports.

Pending certification of avionics with vertical navigation capabilities and approval of individual approach procedures, pilots will be able to navigate as low as 350 feet above the runway end under instrument flight rules using satellite navigation to provide stable vertical guidance. Later this year, a new procedure will be published for the full capability of WAAS, resulting in approaches down to 250 feet above the runway.

“The global positioning system has provided tremendous safety benefits to the traveling public throughout most modes of transportation,” said Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta. “Commissioning WAAS moves us closer to realizing the aviation potential of GPS and the precision it can add to the world’s safest and most complex airspace system.”

“Once avionics are certified to receive the system’s full capability, WAAS will allow precision instrument approaches at thousands of runways at airports and airstrips that have little or no ground-based landing capability,” said FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey. “WAAS will also provide improved en route capabilities because pilots can fly more direct and shorter routes without depending on ground-based navigation aides.”

United Parcel Service Aviation Technology and Chelton Flight Systems have received certification for WAAS avionics with horizontal navigation capability.

The equipment is available for the aviation to community to purchase. Later this year, these avionics systems will be further certified to receive WAAS’ vertical navigation capability. Several other manufacturers are currently working towards certification for WAAS receivers.