Update on WAAS Approaches from FAA

By the end of 2016, every runway in the U.S. that qualifies for an approach with LPV minimums will have one. According to the fall 2012 edition (PDF) of SatNavNews, published by FAA:

The agency intends to publish another 2,500 procedures by 2016, which will allow every runway in the nation that qualifies for an LPV to have one.

The latest data available from FAA, as of September 20, 2012, show the total number of approaches with LPV minimums has reached 2,989. By comparison, there were 1,281 category 1 ILS approaches in the inventory as of that date. More than 50 percent of the so-called LPV approaches serve airports that have no approaches that rely on ground-based navigation aids (i.e., ILS, localizer, VOR, or NDB). LPV procedures truly are expanding the options for instrument-rated pilots who fly aircraft equipped with IFR-approved, WAAS-capable GPS navigators.

LPV approaches can serve runways that may not meet the requirements for an ILS–indeed, many of those runways are suitable only for small general aviation aircraft. To learn about some of the criteria, see¬†Table A16-1B Airport Infrastructure (from AC 150/5300) below. For example, the minimum runway length for an LPV approach is 3200 feet; the comparable number for an ILS is 4200 feet.

Now, the minimums for an LPV approach to a 3200-ft runway are at least 1 statute mile visibility and a DA of 350-400 feet. If an LPV procedure is to match the best minimums for a typical ILS (1/2 statute mile visibility and a DA of 200 feet), the LPV procedure must be to a runway that meets criteria for a conventional precision approach, including runway length, lighting, parallel taxiways, and markings.

Approach Procedure with Vertical Guidance (APV). Runways classified as APV are designed to handle instrument approach operations where the navigation system provides vertical guidance down to 250 feet HATh and visibilities to as low as 3/4 statute mile. May apply to the following approach types: Instrument Landing System (ILS), LNAV/ Vertical Navigation (VNAV), Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV), or Area Navigation (RNAV)/Required Navigation Performance (RNP). These runways must be at least 3,200 feet (975 m) in length with a width at least 60 feet (18.5 m) (with 75 or 100 feet [23 or 30 m].

Precision Approach (PA). Runways classified as precision are designed to handle instrument approach operations supporting instrument approach with HATh lower than 250 feet and visibility lower than 3/4 statute mile, down to and including Category (CAT) III. Precision Instrument Runways (PIR) support IFR operations with visibilities down to and including CAT-III with the appropriate infrastructure. The navigational systems capable of supporting precision operations are ILS, LPV, and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Landing System (GLS). These runways must be at least 4200 feet (1280 m) long, and are at least 75 feet (23 m) wide with the typical width being at least 100 feet (30 m). These runways are typically lighted by High Intensity Runway Lights (HIRL) and must have precision runway markings as defined in AC 150/5340-1. (AC AC 150/5300-13A)

Of course, an LPV procedure is essentially just data in a GPS navigator. To establish an LPV procedures, the owners of an airport don’t have to invest in or maintain ILS transmitters. Once the FAA has the required obstacle surveys and gathered related information, publishing LPV procedures to both ends of an eligible runway (indeed, to the ends of all eligible runways at an airport) requires little incremental investment (for example, to cover the costs of designing and flight-testing each additional procedure). That’s the main reason that the FAA can publish so many new LPV procedures and plan to meet the goal, in four years, of making LPV approaches available to all eligible runways.

Short Bonanza Flight: KBFI-KPLU

A short hop from Boeing Field (KBFI) to Thun Field (KPLU) to have the oil changed in the Bonanza (a model A36).

The setup for this video includes:

The weather was VMC, with a few low-lying clouds scattered around the area. As you can see, I flew a tight pattern at KPLU to remain clear of clouds hanging north of the airport.

Video: Shuttle Endeavor Flies over Los Angeles

Here’s video from one of the NASA chase planes as the Shuttle Endeavor, atop its 747 carrier aircraft, toured the Los Angeles area before landing at LAX.