Traditional ground-based precision instrument landing systems require expensive hardware for each airport runway served. But WAAS requires no such ground equipment. Aircraft simply need WAAS receivers, now a component of most GPS devices and even many smartphones, to plug into the system. And while general aviation pilots pioneered the use of this technology, Horizon Air, Southwest Airlines and UPS are utilizing WAAS as well, creating the advantage of greater efficiencies in the form of shortened routes and time and fuel savings. On the ground, that means more passengers and cargo to support, driving jobs, investment and energy into congressional districts across the country.
AOPA has been a strong advocate for WAAS since the program’s inception, and we’ve been actively involved in supporting its testing and development. We believe that WAAS benefits far outweigh the costs, offering cost savings for both users and the FAA in the future while putting smaller airports and communities they serve within reach.
The president made an important statement by choosing to increase funding for WAAS in FY14, and now Congress has the opportunity to follow his lead during the appropriations process. The 10th anniversary of the FAA’s quietest success story is not just a time for us to celebrate how far we’ve come in providing affordable precision navigation for civil aviation, but also a time to double down on congressional support of WAAS, a smart and necessary investment.
Craig Fuller is president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.