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New satellite payload to ensure safer air travel

The system, integrated within WAAS, significantly improves GPS accuracy from 100 metres to about two metres

Airbus_A380_blue_skyRaytheon Company will field the newest element in a space-based system which makes air travel safer and more efficient for millions of travellers.

The Raytheon-supplied system will be a key feature of the FAA’s Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) which improves the availability and accuracy of Global Positioning System (GPS) signals to enable use by commercial and general aviation aircraft. The company will develop a payload to be incorporated into a new geostationary (GEO) satellite and two associated ground uplink stations to support the WAAS system within U.S. airspace.

“The WAAS system is a critical component to ensuring our national airspace remains safe, especially with the increased volume of air traffic,” said Michael Espinola, Managing Director, Raytheon Air Traffic Systems. “Raytheon’s 18 years of collaboration with the FAA continues to deliver accurate, high-integrity GPS navigation technologies to all pilots within the national airspace.”

WAAS significantly improves GPS accuracy from 100 metres to about two metres. The system enables more direct flight routing, precision landing approaches and even access to unimproved airports and remote landing sites without dependence on ground based infrastructure.

Like its predecessors, the WAAS GEO 6 payload will be hosted aboard a commercial host satellite in a geostationary earth orbit (GEO). The GEO payload receives processed signals from the GEO 6 ground stations and then re-broadcasts them to user aircraft. The FAA operates three WAAS GEO satellite payloads at all times to ensure continuous system availability. The GEO 6 system, along with GEO 5 (awarded to Raytheon in 2012), will replace two WAAS GEO payloads that are approaching the end of their service leases.

It is expected that the WAAS GEO 6 payload will be launched in the second quarter of 2017. The system will enter its 10-year operational phase in 2019.

As the original developer of the WAAS system, Raytheon has more than 60 years of experience in providing global air traffic management (ATM) technology, including precision satellite-based navigation products. Raytheon delivers numerous ATM products and services to civil and military customers around the world. Raytheon’s ATM solutions operate in more than 60 countries, and monitor more than 60 percent of the world’s airspace.