Robinson Helicopters of Torrance, Calif., arrived at Heli-Expo armed with orders and prepared to sell even more of its piston-powered helicopters. The question on everybody’s mind, though, is whether CEO Frank Robinson will finallly launch the R66 this year.
In a letter to the Department of Transportation last month, AOPA renewed its support of loran as a possible low-cost, ideal backup to the future GPS-based ATC system. The letter went to the Coast Guard because it is responsible for operation and maintenance of loran.
A public survey by the DOT and Homeland Security drew more than 900 responses about whether Loran should be kept operational or shut down.
In an effort to build on the promise of the GPS wide-area augmentation system (WAAS), the FAA has amended a $200 million contract with Raytheon to deploy next-generation technology for satellite precision approach guidance.
The French civil aviation authority, DGAC, has published the first GNSS nonprecision approach procedure for a French airport and is working toward introducing approaches with vertical guidance (APVs) once the necessary augmentation of the GPS signals is available and the relevant ICAO design criteria become effective.
Today pilots who have an inertial navigation system coupled with an advanced GPS aboard their airplanes are considered to be at the upper end of the profession, while the rest of us bumble along with just a plain vanilla GPS–maybe with a WAAS upgrade–and a couple of VORs plus one, maybe two, DMEs. But tomorrow might be different.
While the FAA’s current WAAS network offers equipped users with improved GPS performance across the continental U.S. and Alaska, it still does not provide the redundancy and reliability required from an aviation navigation service. So the FAA has now contracted to obtain additional geostationary satellites (GEOs) to rectify this shortcoming.
Germany’s air navigation service provider (ANSP), Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS), is working toward the national implementation of differential GPS-based precision approaches in a program expected to last about two years.
With the triple- and sometimes quadruple-redundant electrical systems in the most modern business jets, carrying a backup battery-powered handheld radio or GPS on board might seem as unnecessary as strapping on a parachute or affecting helmet, scarf and goggles. But for turboprop crews or operators of older business jets, the idea of needing such emergency backup might not be as farfetched.
After 10 frustrating years of technical delays, escalating costs and contractor changes, the FAA’s GPS wide area augmentation system (WAAS) is approaching the level of performance the agency originally envisioned for it back in the late 1980s. With the system’s initial operational capability declared in 2003 and 18 months of satisfactory performance now behind them, WAAS advocates can see light at the end of the tunnel.