First U.S. passenger airline to use WAAS
Jan. 11, 2010, Tucson, AZ – Universal Avionics airline customer, Horizon Air, has become the first U.S. passenger airline to embrace the FAA's Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) for use in revenue-generating flight operations.
January 11, 2010 By Melissa Damota
Jan. 11, 2010, Tucson, AZ – Universal Avionics airline customer, Horizon Air, has become the first U.S. passenger airline to embrace the FAA's Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) for use in revenue-generating flight operations. A customer of Universal Avionics since 1997, Horizon is currently undergoing a program to upgrade its fleet of Bombardier DHC-8-400 (Q400) aircraft with Universal Avionics' WAAS-enabled Flight Management Systems (FMS).
Equipped with dual Universal Avionics UNS-1Ew FMSs, Horizon Air Flight #2014 departing Portland, OR (PDX) on December 30, 2009 for arrival in Seattle-Tahoma (SEA), was the first regional airline passenger flight with certified WAAS-enabled FMSs onboard providing guidance for conducting a WAAS approach procedure. Later that day, a second flight, Horizon Air Flight #2057, became the first Part 121 passenger flight to complete a WAAS Localizer Performance with Vertical (LPV) guidance approach procedure. Reports of widespread IMC into Portland with the
ILS to Rwy 10R out of service resulted in a condition where only RNAV (GPS) WAAS approach procedures provided a means to land safely, on-time, at the original destination.
Horizon Air operates a fleet of 40 Q400 aircraft currently being upgraded to dual Universal Avionics UNS-1Ew WAAS/SBAS-FMSs. FAA Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) approval for the installation of Universal's UNS-1Ew WAAS/SBAS-FMS in the Bombardier DHC-8-400 (Q400) aircraft was issued November 23, 2009. The STC is owned by Canard Aerospace Corporation, which provided the certification services and design engineering for the Horizon Air project.
As part of the NextGen National Airspace System improvement plan, the FAA is focused on reducing the industry's dependence on older ground based navaids such as ILS, and increasing the use of GPS navigation via the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS). WAAS-enabled avionics provide precise horizontal and vertical guidance data that allows improved separation standards, greater runway capability and increased airspace capacity.
With Universal's WAAS/SBAS-FMS, operators such as Horizon Air can fly all available WAAS approach procedures (1,884 published to date) including LPV approach procedures, are no longer required to conduct RAIM checks to verify GPS availability, and have more flexibility in choosing alternate airports. Operators of aircraft equipped with WAAS-enabled avionics also take advantage of lower descent minima, greater airport accessibility and improved performance and safety in poor weather conditions.