THE US AIR FORCE will begin buying enhanced ground-proximity warning systems (EGPWS) even before the US Federal Aviation Administration requires its installation on transport-category aircraft.

The USAF joins a handful of US airlines which have voluntarily elected to install copies of the upgraded safety device on their aircraft in advance of a US aviation agency mandate. A detailed review of the EGPWS, a development by AlliedSignal Aerospace, follows the crash of an American Airlines Boeing 757 near Cali, Colombia, in December 1995.

As part of its accident investigation, the US National Transportation Safety Board has strongly urged the FAA to require the installation of EGPWS systems on transport aircraft.

It is widely believed that the controlled-flight-into-terrain loss could have been avoided had the EGPWS been aboard the 757.

The EGPWS compares a digital database of the world's terrain with the aircraft's location and altitude to generate a map-like display of surrounding terrain.

The GPWS offers a 15s alert, while the enhanced version provides a 1min warning.

Source: Flight International