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New Approach Technology Makes Houston Debut

May 1, 2013

© Houston Airport System
The SmartPath GBAS system decreases air traffic noise and reduces weather-related delays.
Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) became fully operational with the first precision approach flown by a United Airlines aircraft using Honeywell’s SmartPath Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) on Monday, April 22.

IAH is one of two airports in the country participating in a pilot program, in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), United Airlines and Honeywell to demonstrate the use of GBAS.

This new system delivers a cost-effective solution to increase airport capacity, decrease air traffic noise and reduce weather-related delays.

“The Houston Airports are among the most innovative and progressive in the nation when it comes to safety and efficiently connecting passengers to destinations around the world,” said Mario Diaz, Director of the Houston Airports. “It is imperative that we continue to invest in new technology that enhances the aviation sector.”

Honeywell’s SmartPath GBAS system augments GPS signals so they can be used for precision navigation in the approach and landing phases of flight. The flexible approaches provided by GBAS may produce a significant reduction in aircraft delays and carbon emissions at airports.

The project is a component of the FAA Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). It's a migration from what is considered to be a ground-based air navigation system to a satellite-based navigation system which uses the same GPS that you use in your cars today. United Airlines will operate the flights with a Boeing 737 aircraft equipped with global navigation satellite system (GNSS) landing system (GLS) technology to receive the GBAS landing approach data.

United was an early leader in NextGen technology, taking delivery of GLS-equipped aircraft since 2009. GBAS can provide aircraft with guidance as low as 200 feet above the surface of the runway, referred to as a Category I approach. 
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