SmartPath GBAS trials to thwart jammer threat

US carriers United-Continental and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have begun re-testing Honeywell’s SmartPath GPS-based precision landing system both at Newark and Houston airports.
A trial in late 2009 found that GPS jammers, being used by motorists to the east of Newark airport, were causing the SLS-4000 GBAS ground station to shut down.
Successful testing of a revamped Honeywell-built ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) that has been funded by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey could mean that it could be operational by this summer at Newark.
A second GBAS system is being moved from a test site in Memphis to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental airport, where United aircraft will be able to use the system for Category 1 instrument approaches by spring. United will eventually be able to use the approaches at both Newark and Houston on the city pairing.
Testing follows FAA-led action to develop a series of GBAS siting and software upgrades to provide a more robust system that would make the system more resistant to illegal radiation.
“We’re in a good position with GBAS now. We discovered the issue at Newark related essentially to illegal activity and have improved the system as a result; we have a lot of interest globally in SmartPath and are installing new systems; and we continue to work with FAA support on developing Cat II/III capability for both the ground station and the avionics,” said Chris Benich, Honeywell’s director of regulatory affairs.
* The FAA is on the hunt for a portable interference monitoring detection system (PIMDS) to help track down and shut down illegal GPS jammer activity.
The agency is seeking a low profile solution which will, when installed on a vehicle used by officials in its spectrum engineering services directorate, appear inconspicuous.
The receiver will need to weigh no more than 13.6kg (30lb), fit inside a shock-resistant carrying case, and indicate jammer signal strength as well as where the offender is likely to be located on a moving map display.
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