FAA system on GAO's radar screen
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Apr 06, 2000
As the Federal Aviation Administration awaits the results of an independent
panel's assessment of safety problems with its satellite-based navigation
system, Congress also is taking a closer look.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's
Transportation Subcommittee, has requested a General Accounting Office report
on the FAA's Wide-Area Augmentation System.
Earlier this year, FAA discovered problems with the ground- and space-based
system's ability to prove it could catch errors in the signals received
from Global Positioning System satellites. A panel of experts assembled
by the FAA is helping prime contractor Raytheon Co. develop new algorithms
for the software.
A GAO report is due in early May, a government source said. The report will:
* Examine the extent to which the Defense Department's GPS signal upgrades
could meet FAA's navigation requirements without an augmentation system.
* Examine the costs and benefits of WAAS and whether the FAA underestimated
the cost of the system.
* Examine whether less-costly alternatives are available to meet navigation
needs and assess the potential impact on satellite navigation and National
Airspace System modernization.
The report will assess the impact of the algorithm problem on an investment
analysis the FAA completed in September 1998. The analysis recommended using
satellite navigation with augmentation systems. It also suggested examining
whether alternative radionavigation systems such as Loran-C and Eurofix
could provide the precision landing capabilities airlines want.
The problems that plague FAA's modernization programs stem from cultural
problems, organizational alignments in the agency and poor communication,
the government source said.