First Airliner WAAS Approach

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The passengers aboard a Horizon Air flight to Portland in late December got there on time and made history in doing so. They were aboard the first Part 121 passenger flight to complete a WAAS Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) and without the satellite-based gear they would likely have ended up somewhere else. It was a typical winter day in the Pacific Northwest and the ILS was out in Portland so only aircraft with WAAS-capable GPS gear aboard were getting in. Horizon, which flies in some of the most challenging terrain and weather anywhere as the regional arm of Alaska Airlines, is equipping all its 40 Bombardier Q400s with Universal Avionics' WAAS-enabled flight management systems, enabling them to fly any WAAS approach, improving accessibility to airports on their routes and giving greater flexibility in picking alternates.

The STC for the WAAS gear (Universal Avionics UNS-1Ew WAAS/SBAS-FMS) in the Q400 was obtained by Canard Aerospace Corp. on Nov. 23 and the first revenue flight was flown the morning of Dec. 30. The Portland approach happened that afternoon. There are now 1,884 published WAAS approaches and it's expected the gear will become a fixture in airline cockpits as part of the NextGen program.