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Press Release – FAA Announces Major Milestone for Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS)

For Immediate Release

Release No. AOC 05-06
March 24, 2006
Contact: Tammy Jones
Phone: (202) 267-3476

WASHINGTON, DC – In a move that provides more precision, all-weather approaches and increases capacity at thousands of the nation’s general aviation airports, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) use will be extended to 200 feet above an airport’s surface.

WAAS is a satellite-based navigation system designed to improve the accuracy, availability and integrity of signals from Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. Before WAAS, the U.S. did not have the ability to provide horizontal and vertical navigation for precision approach operations for all users at all locations. WAAS will improve capacity and safety and will eventually reduce operations costs for the FAA by enabling the removal of a portion of existing ground-based navigation infrastructure.

“WAAS moves us another step closer to a satellite-based airspace system,” said FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey. “Less reliance on a ground-based infrastructure will result in improved safety, including enhanced approach and landing operations in marginal weather.”

The FAA plans to make these vertical approaches available at airports where there are no instrument landing systems. These lower minima may require more stringent requirements for some airfields. Those airports that do not have the appropriate conditions for vertical approaches may require additional infrastructure and airspace upgrades. WAAS will be available to all pilots whose aircraft are equipped with the appropriate avionics, both general aviation pilots and commercial operators.

The first procedures that allow operations down to 200 feet will be published in 2007. The FAA currently has more than 300 vertical guidance procedures and is expecting to publish 300 additional procedures in 2006.

Originally commissioned in July 2003, WAAS was approved to provide vertical guidance down to 350 feet. Localizer performance with vertical guidance procedures down to 250 feet was later developed to take advantage of the increased performance provided by WAAS. Over the past two years, WAAS has provided coverage to roughly 99 percent of the continental United States and has been available 99.87 percent of the time.


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