The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched an industry-wide project to identify smaller airports within Britain that could benefit from the development of new instrument approach procedures. All industry sectors from airport managers to air traffic controllers to pilots and commercial operators are encouraged to offer suggestions on potential airport recipients.
Microwave landing system
The FAA has withdrawn several previously published rulemaking proposals because the planned actions have been overcome by events, are no longer relevant or will be addressed in future rulemaking. Withdrawn proposals include a 1988 notice calling for improved water-survival equipment and a 1990 proposal to amend Part 77 (the rules covering the construction of objects affecting navigable airspace).
Rockwell Collins announced the successful completion of microwave landing system (MLS) Category IIIb approach tests in the U.S. and Europe, with the aim of obtaining TSO approval for its multi-mode receiver (MMR) in the first quarter of this year.
The first fully integrated multi-mode receiver (MMR) for use with microwave landing systems completed a series of successful test flights recently. MMR maker Rockwell Collins said the tests would lead to certification early next year. TSO approval for the MMR unit should be in hand by the end of the first quarter, with initial deliveries starting soon after to the U.S. Air Force.
Other than the occasional contradiction, the recently released federal radionavigation plan (FRP) reveals few surprises. The FRP does, however, include a revised schedule
for the gradual phaseout of certain VOR, VOR/DME and ILS installations across the continental U.S., primarily following nationwide certification of WAAS. Originally planned to commence in 2008, the phaseout has now slipped to 2011.
In February, London Heathrow became the latest European airport to opt for the microwave landing system (MLS) as its future precision approach landing aid. The UK’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) ordered four Category III systems for Heathrow’s Runways 27R, 27L, 09R and 09L, all of which will be installed later this year.
At press time, technical experts from the FAA, the U.S. Coast Guard and researchers from Ohio and Stanford Universities were due to begin a two-week flight-test program in Alaska to assess the use of loran transmitters to send out GPS WAAS messages across the state.
After extensive industry consultation, the FAA has recently completed a document outlining its proposed strategy for transition from today’s terrestrial navaids to GPS, including proposed procedures to minimize the effect of GPS jamming.
Rockwell Collins has gained the first-ever TSO approval for a multi-mode receiver with microwave landing system (MLS) capability. Besides MLS, the receiver integrates VOR, ILS, marker beacon and GPS. Cat III MLS approaches are in use at a handful of European airports, most notably London Heathrow. The precision navigation concept has also been adopted by the military for set-up of “portable” precision approaches anywhere in the world.
Is ILS, aviation’s trusted friend for the past half century, now seeing its last days? Probably not. Some observers believe it has many years of life ahead of it, yet newer technologies are slowly entering the scene, in such diverse settings as Norway’s fjords, Heathrow’s jam-packed runways, the icy wastes of Antarctica and at several major U.S. hubs.
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