What WAAS and LAAS means for the future of air travel?
WAAS, the Wild Area Augmentation System is an air navigation system developed by the FAA to Augment GPS satellites. WAAS is used to track aircraft in flight to better improve its accuracy and ability to locate aircraft within 25 ft. actual measurements of the system have shown accuracy as precise as 3 ft 3 in. laterally and 4 ft 11 in. vertically throughout most of the United States and Canada. The WAAS system has the ability to critique itself and correct problems such as incorrect signals in as little as 6.2 seconds. The WAAS system does this by using ground segment stations that continuously measure the small variations in GPS satellites in the Western Hemisphere and route their findings to a master station that uploads the information to the satellite. The satellite in turn sends the corrected information to the aircraft where it is processed and displayed. The WAAS system when operating is expected to have reliability rating of 99.999% meaning a downtime five minutes or less a year. The WAAS system is an extremely accurate tool for pinpointing aircraft in the sky and far exceeds the ability of radar today.
In the future of air travel the WAAS system is going to change the way we do business. In the aircraft the pilot is going to be able to plot his course, pick his altitude, and route the flight with more control. He/she will be able to fly specified routes knowing accurately where the surrounding aircraft are flying within their vicinity. For example, pilots can make a safe instrument approach to any airport in the United States as well as having the ability to fly from one airport another in a straight line as opposed to flying specified flight routes. Another benefit is the ability to fly safely at low altitudes. This will not only cut down flight time it will also reduce fuel burn and have some environmental benefits. The reason this can be done is not only the GPS’s...