Under a new modification to the FAA's Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) project, approach and landing guidance availability will increase to more than 99 percent across much of the North American continent, Raytheon Co. said on Monday. The plan to deploy "Full Lateral Precision with Vertical Guidance (LPV) Performance" will enhance the WAAS signals for increased approach availability during weather disturbances and solar flares as well as during normal conditions, Raytheon said. WAAS is a nationwide network of reference, master and uplink stations that augment Global Positioning System satellites to provide improved accuracy, integrity and availability. WAAS is the FAA's next-generation satellite-based navigation system. It was commissioned by the FAA in July 2003 and has been in continuous operational use since that time.
Work began this summer with the installation of four WAAS Reference Stations (WRS) in the Alaskan towns of Kotzebue, Bethel, Barrow and Fairbanks. These four new stations join the three existing stations in the state at Cold Bay, Anchorage and Juneau. Together, they will support LPV coverage over most of the state, and become an integral part of the Capstone Program, which is substantially improving safety in the aviation-dependent state. The FAA and NavCanada recently announced a bilateral agreement to install four reference stations in Winnipeg, Goose Bay, Gander and Iqaluit. The four sites will expand LPV availability throughout much of Canada and the northern United States. John Crichton, NavCanada's president and CEO, sees this as a way to avoid "the cost of developing duplicate systems," and to limit the need to invest in more ground-based ILS approach facilities, Raytheon said.
The FAA and the Mexican government are also planning to install five WRSs in Mexico at Puerto Vallarta, La Paz, Mexico City, Meridia and Tapachula. These sites will increase and expand LPV approach availability in Mexico and the American southwest in the same manner as the Canadian sites. Garmin's GNS 480 last month earned the industry's first TSO C146a Gamma-3 certification, which enables pilots to fly LPV-guidance approaches and receive primary-means GPS navigation via WAAS. That capability provides pilots with primary GPS guidance during all phases of flight and opens the possibility of shooting an ILS-like approach into thousands of airports that are not currently served by an ILS, Garmin said.