Alaska Air Equips Jets With Airport Navigators

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Plenty of pilots are familiar with technology that tells us to "Turn right" or "Turn left" in a friendly female voice -- because it's installed on the dashboards of our cars, fresh from Best Buy. Now Alaska Airlines will be the first airline to provide similar technology for all of its airplanes, to guide pilots around airport runways. Their technology, however, fresh from Honeywell, will cost $20,000 per airplane. The airline started working with Honeywell three years ago to test the Runway Awareness and Advisory System (RAAS), which provides pilots with audible alerts when they approach and enter taxiways and runways. RAAS confirms runway identifications to help ensure pilots are on the correct runway with enough distance to complete takeoff, and provides an audible warning if a pilot inadvertently accelerates for takeoff while on a taxiway. Alaska Airlines began installing RAAS on its Boeing 737s in July, and the fleet will be fully equipped with the aural alert software by the end of this month.

RAAS is a software upgrade to Honeywell's Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, which warns pilots if they fly too close to terrain, and will take about an hour to install. The system will eventually become standard equipment on all Boeing aircraft, according to The Wall Street Journal.