Houston: The GBAS has landed

An official ribbon-cutting ceremony was scheduled June 14 at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport celebrating the first commercial Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) operations.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reports that a milestone in the development of the Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) was reached on May 31 with the publication of six GBAS Landing System (GLS) procedures at the US airport.

The new procedures, which overlay existing Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures, will be used in simultaneous independent parallel runway operations.

Publication of the procedures clears the way for United Airlines to initiate the first regular passenger flights in the United States using the GBAS technology. GBAS provides digital guidance for precision approaches using a Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) for aircraft equipped with a Multi-Mode Receiver (MMR).

The system boosts the accuracy and integrity of GPS by transmitting corrections to the aircraft. The system offers a number of advantages compared to ILS: weather and obstacles have no negative impact on the system; unlike ILS, the equipment does not need to be installed right at a runway where it must be surrounded by a protected area to prevent possible interference by taxiing aircraft; and up to 26 arrivals, destined for various runways, can be supported by just one GBAS station, making it much more cost-effective, both in purchase price and maintenance costs.

Honeywell which installed the non-federal GBAS station at the airport, will contract with Houston Airport System (HAS), the owner of the station, to provide maintenance for the equipment. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will exercise maintenance oversight. The first commercial flight was scheduled for June 4.

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