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WAAS Comes Of Age

by John M. White |  | 1 comment

After many years of delay the FAA is finally bringing WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) to more and more general aviation airports. This system is meant to replace the aging VOR and ILS systems throughout the US and its possessions. Wide Area Augmentation System In case you haven't noticed, WAAS offers precision approaches to 250 feet and 1/2 mile at many general aviation airports, including some that have had no previous instrument approaches.  In addition, there is the LNAV/VNAV approaches which have MDAs similar to non-precision approaches with one important improvement. Instead of the traditional "dive and drive" vertical navigation pilots will now have something similar to a glide slope down to the MDA (Minimum Descent Altitude), creating 1,700 much more safe approaches with lower limits.  This is a good thing because the FAA reports that approaches with vertical navigation have a much lower accident rate. Last, but not least, is the simple LNAV approach which has no vertical guidance, similar to our present day VOR approaches. So far the FAA has approved 4,100 of these approaches.  For these approaches the advantage is that because the system does not rely upon ground based navigation facilities it is easier to set the approach up for straight in approaches lined up with the runway centerline. Overseas similar systems are under development under different names, but with the same capabilities. I remember my first exposure to a FMS (Flight Management System) years ago on the early civilian jets, and how amazing that system was. Doesn't hold a candle to the WAAS system though. Be sure and keep up with these developments and enjoy the safety they bring to a very dangerous occupation. Given recent history we can use all the safety we can get in aviation. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7

Sacrifices must be made.

— Otto Lilienthal, one of the main sources of inspiration for the Wright brothers, this was a favorite phrase. He died August 10, 1896 from injuries sustained two days earlier in a crash of one of his hang gliders. German: "Opfer mussen gebracht werden."

Comments (1)

  • Patrick Flannigan on June 24, 2019

    Always great to see newer and more precise approaches blanketing the country, but I still cringe at the inevitable decommissioning of more of the country’s NDB’s and VOR’s.

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