The Memphis, Tennessee airport plans to introduce the Smartpath precision landing system developed by Honeywell early in 2010 after securing FAA approval for the ground based augmentation system (GBAS).

GBAS augments GPS to supply precision approach guidance to all qualifying runways at an airport. GBAS monitors GPS signals to detect errors and augment accuracy by transmitting correction messages to aircraft through local radio broadcasts. FAA explains GBAS will initially supplement the legacy instrument landing systems currently in use at airports.

"The approval of Honeywell's system marks the successful completion of a partnership between the FAA and Airservices Australia to build and certify a ground based augmentation system (GBAS)," says FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "We expect GBAS to become an asset to airports around the world." Airservices Australia is expected to approve their system soon at Sydney Airport, Australia.

Honeywell and Airservices Australia in 2006 formed a partnership to develop and commercialise satellite-based landing systems.

Honeywell explains that GBAS is more flexible than instrument landing systems (ILS) as a single GBAS can broadcast 26 unique approaches covering all runways at an airport and one GBAS can cover all ends of all runways. The ILS covers only one end of a runway, says Honeywell, requiring additional installations for complete coverage.

FAA explains its Next Generation (NextGen) air traffic system development scheme identifies GBAS as an enabler for descent and approach operations to increase capacity at crowded airports. Honeywell's Smartpath is approved for precision operations down to 200ft above the surface.

The agency explains planned improvements to GBAS during the next few years include an ability to guide aircraft down to the runway surface in support of zero-visibility operations and to provide precise positioning service to enable performance based navigation, area navigation (RNAV) and required navigation performance (RNP) operations.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news