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Hybridizing contemporary glide slopes to provide vertical guidance for GPS approaches

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1 Author(s)
McFarland, Richard H. ; Stocker Center, Ohio Univ., Athens, OH, USA

Vertical guidance for an instrument approach to landing during conditions of reduced visibility is a crucial element with respect to safety of flight. It is noteworthy that this vertical component-to be most useful and safe-must desirably provide the pilot with no more than several feet of uncertainty. Unfortunately, with GPS the vertical portion of the position information supplied the pilot by GPS signals is the least precise because of geometries involved. Augmentation for enhancement of accuracy is quite important and the assertion is that it is necessary for totally safe vertical guidance. Evidence from approximately 60 years of experience with electronic landing systems serving the public is that there has been no aircraft accident due to a defective vertical guidance signal. Visibilities as low as 600 feet horizontally can exist at certain airports and landings can still be accomplished. These landings, while not common, are being accomplished flawlessly by contemporary aircraft and equipment. Many aspects of the contemporary UHF glide slope have been studied during its half-century of use. This paper reports on advances, some of them quite recent, that make it realistic to claim that a glide slope can be sited for Category I operation at any runway that meets the physical requirements for this type of operation. For the UHF glide slope, siting imperfections are accommodated by using one of five available types of contemporary glide slope systems or derivatives thereof. This paper reviews how accommodations are achieved in practical cases. Results from earlier tests are identified which show hybridizing of UHF glide slopes and GPS can be used to provide good approach guidance to aircraft making fully automatic approaches to touchdown

Published in:

Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:16 ,  Issue: 1 )