For Immediate Release

Release No. APA 88-99
August 13, 1999
Contact: Les Dorr, Jr./Holly Baker (Technical Center)
Phone: Dorr/202-267-8521 Baker/609-485-6253

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), United Parcel Service (UPS) and the Air Transport Association (ATA) are set to conduct flight tests of a system that ultimately could let aircraft land safely in any weather using satellite navigation technology.

The tests, using a prototype of the FAA's Local Area Augmentation System (LAAS), will take place Aug. 14-15 at the agency's William J. Hughes Technical Center, adjacent to Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey. LAAS is designed to enhance the safety and efficiency of air travel by increasing the accuracy and availability of Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite signals for approaches and landings at airports under virtually all weather conditions.

Specifically, the flight tests will study the benefits of integrating a "pseudolite" into the existing FAA LAAS prototype. A pseudolite is a ground component installed at the airport that appears to be another GPS satellite to an aircraft's navigation system. This technology provides the high system availability required for planes to conduct all weather operations using GPS signals. The tests also will collect data to determine the signal accuracy achieved by using the pseudolite broadcast.

In the Atlantic City tests, a UPS Boeing 767 flown by company pilots will perform 40 approaches down to as low as 25 feet above the runway. The pilots will fly some approaches manually; others will be coupled to the aircraft's autopilot.

The LAAS and GPS signals will be processed by equipment specially installed aboard the 767 for these tests. This equipment will provide navigation guidance to the aircraft's existing systems during the approaches. Precise data will be collected from several sources to determine if the system performs satisfactorily.

LAAS can tell pilots where their aircraft is to an accuracy of less than one meter, and the system can be used in all visibility conditions. It complements the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) that the FAA is now developing and acquiring.

WAAS is a GPS-based navigation and landing system that will provide the accuracy, integrity, availability and continuity needed to support all phases of flight through Category 1 precision approaches.