FAA awards satellite system contract

The Federal Aviation Administration awarded a contract for a satellite landing system aimed to improve safety during approaches and landings.

The Local Area Augmentation System contract was awarded to Minneapolis-based Honeywell International Inc. to provide Global Positioning System data in and around airports. LAAS is a satellite navigation landing system that helps pilots land in bad weather.

"LAAS will significantly enhance the safety and efficiency of air travel by increasing the accuracy, availability, continuity and integrity of the information received from the Global Positioning System constellation of satellites," FAA administrator Marion Blakey said in a statement.

The contract is divided into three phases:

* The first phase is valued at $16.7 million and covers software and hardware design for a Category I LAAS. Category I refers to landings in poor weather conditions, with a ceiling of 200 feet and a visibility of one-half mile.

* The second two phases, totaling an additional $340 million, provide the development and production of the Category I system.

The first LAAS systems will be installed at Chicago O'Hare and Houston International, as well as at airports in Juneau, Alaska; Memphis, Tenn.; Phoenix and Seattle. FAA officials expect the systems to be operational by late 2006.

LAAS complements the Wide Area Augmentation System, which corrects GPS signals, enabling users to determine their positions anywhere in the world and broadcasting the information to receivers on the aircraft. WAAS, contracted to Raytheon Co., is expected to be operational this summer, FAA officials said.

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