Juneau, AK — The first commercial flight of a Capstone equipped aircraft will make history in Juneau today as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) demonstrates Phase II of the program to provide the aviation industry with communications and navigation tools that will enhance safety and open new air routes.
Under authority of a Special Federal Aviation Regulation, LAB Flying Service will operate the first flight from Juneau International Airport based solely on Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation. LAB's Cessna Seneca has been outfitted with the latest version of the Capstone suite of computer equipment and software to receive satellite communications.
Accompanying FAA Regional Administrator Patrick N. Poe on the inaugural flight will be Kip Knudson, Deputy Commission for Aviation, Alaska Department of Transportation, and Felix Maguire, Alaska Aviation Coordinating Council.
Capstone provides pilots with in cockpit information on terrain, weather and air traffic, according to Regional Administrator Poe. The newest rendition of the equipment will employ the first commercial use of advanced Electronic Flight Information system (EFIS) built by Chelton Flight Systems. Its primary flight display feature real-time 3-D terrain modeling, airspeed, groundspeed, altitude, altitude above ground and many other types of information.
A second display features an aeronautical map that includes weather data and air traffic information. The map displays the flight plan along with terrain and traffic near the aircraft's current altitude.
Incorporated into the program is the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) capability. WAAS, which is to become operational later this year, uses satellites and ground based receivers for precise navigation.
The new equipment will permit the aircraft to fly at new lower Minimum Enroute Altitudes thus opening 41,000 miles of airspace over 1,521 nautical miles of existing routes. A Special Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) permits trained pilots to use the GPS receivers as the sole means for enroute navigation in Alaska. This regulation is specific to Alaska.
Capstone Phase II will be offered to Southeast Alaska air carriers free of charge as occurred in the Bethel area where Phase I was initiated. Capstone partners include: the Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association, Alaska Airmen's Association, Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation, Alaska Air Carriers Association, Airline Pilots Association, United Parcel Service – Aviation Technologies, Cargo Airline Association, University of Alaska Anchorage, MITRE Corporation, the Small Aircraft Manufacturing Association, Alaska Department of Transportation, Free Flight Incorporated, Chelton Flight Systems, and the US Air Force.