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Fri, Oct 22, 2010

Data Starting To Flow From WAAS Demonstration Projects

Industry Partnerships Support Flight Infrastructure System

The FAA is now receiving preliminary data from Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) operational demonstration projects set up over the last two years with seven firms representing a cross section of the aviation industry. This initial data confirms that the use of WAAS avionics reduces fuel consumption and flight time, enables more direct en route navigation, and increases safety.

The WAAS Government Industry Partnerships allow the FAA to identify, develop and implement greater applications for WAAS in the National Air Space. In addition, these projects help to establish the requisite criteria for aircraft equipage, flight test and evaluations, and data collection. Most importantly, these projects support the FAA’s development of an en route and terminal flight infrastructure system utilizing satellite based navigation.

Firms participating in these demonstration projects are:

  • Flight Service Providers AAG Vertical.
  • Air Frame Manufacturer Bell Helicopter.
  • Regional Airline Cape Air
  • Emergency Medical Helicopter CareFlite.
  • Major Regional Carrier Horizon Air.
  • Fractional Ownership of Business Jets NetJets.
  • Cargo Operator Northern Air Cargo.

Mike Kelley, chief pilot for Northern Air Cargo, said, “Flights are more repeatable and predictable using WAAS navigation. The WAAS-based Initial Approach Fix requires less time and fuel than Instrument Landing System approaches.”

A cost saving example from Northern Air Cargo shows an average fuel savings of 809 pounds flying Boeing 737s on the Anchorage-Barrow route in Alaska. Assuming five roundtrip flights per week with fuel at $2.25/gallon, the savings realized from WAAS utilization adds up to $138,000 per year. Time savings amount to as much as 7% in the Northern Air Cargo demonstration project; and variability in flight was reduced by 20%-50% over non-WAAS flights. Fuel on-board was reduced from 3% to as much as 8% using WAAS navigation.

The FAA plans to enter additional partnerships, according to Dave Peterson, Operational Implementation Manager of the Global Navigation Satellite System program. “Some major airlines have expressed interest in participating,” he said.



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