First WAAS, Now LAAS

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Work is continuing on development of Local Area Augmentation System (LAAS) to further enhance GPS navigation, particularly during precision approaches. The Wide Area Augmentation System has been running for about three years and has opened up hundreds of airports for ILS approaches, to established minimums, using GPS data. The LAAS system is another refinement of GPS that allows even greater precision. "LAAS will offer very precise guidance to aircraft, eventually providing guidance all the way to the runway surface even when visibility is near zero," said Rick Cassell, head of safety systems for Rannoch Corporation. Rannoch recently won an FAA contract to provide engineering support on the project. Assuming all goes as planned, LAAS could have a major impact on the way we fly around airports. It may eventually replace conventional ILS gear and will provide the navigation data for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) systems. The FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center is coordinating the LAAS effort.