Press Release Article


Date: Dec 17, 2008
Press Release Number: 154-2008

Next Generation Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) to use global positioning data to pinpoint aircraft positions, rather than Old Generation radar

Newark Liberty International Airport will become the nation’s first major hub to test a new satellite navigation technology to help reduce flight delays, under an agreement approved today by the Port Authority’s board of commissioners.

The technology, called Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS), will help reduce air-traffic control congestion at Newark Liberty by increasing navigational precision compared with traditional radar-based systems. Essentially, planes using GBAS will be able to fly closer together and land more efficiently, without reducing safety.

Such a program will benefit Newark Liberty, which has been plagued for years by congestion and has consistently ranked near the bottom of the nation’s busiest airports in terms of on-time arrivals.

Testing the GBAS technology is part of the Port Authority’s Flight Delay Task Force’s recommendations for alleviating congestion at Newark Liberty and its two other major airports, John F. Kennedy International and La Guardia.

“As the Flight Delay Task Force concluded, implementing a “next gen” air traffic control system is critical to reducing flight delays at the nation’s airports,’’ said Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia. “The Port Authority’s investment in GBAS shows our willingness to act on the Task Force’s recommendation, and we’re very pleased that our customers at Newark Liberty will be among the very first to profit from this innovative system.’’

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is entering a memorandum of agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration and Continental Airlines to conduct demonstration tests of the GBAS technology.

The Port Authority has authorized an estimated $2.5 million to cover the costs and oversee a contract with Honeywell to buy, install and maintain the GBAS system. Honeywell is the only FAA-certified provider of the system.

Continental will invest approximately $1.1 million to outfit 15 planes with GBAS equipment and train pilots to use the system. The FAA has committed as much as $2.5 million to assess the technology and expand its use.

“We are pleased to enter a partnership with the FAA to help advance ‘Next Gen’ technology in the congested New York/New Jersey airspace,’’ said Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward. “Cooperation between the FAA and PA on the nagging problem of flight delays is essential to alleviating the problem here in the region and across the nation.”

Ward added, "As the largest carrier at Newark Liberty, Continental is showing important leadership by participating in this pioneering project."

Radar systems utilize radio waves and navigational beacons for aircraft to follow, and they help pilots and air-traffic controllers gauge the altitude, direction and speed of moving planes. Current navigational systems also are radar-based and make it possible for planes to land in varying weather conditions.

While used for decades following World War II and inherently safe, radar is inefficient at busy airports because of the length of spacing necessary between planes.

"Satellite navigation has tremendous accuracy and integrity for civil navigation, creating far more efficiency than radar in processing planes and they do not have the obstruction issues that radio waves have," said Port Authority Aviation Director William DeCota.

"Right now full implementation of satellite navigation in the U.S. and elsewhere to meet future demands and avoid gridlock in the sky is a number of years away and dependent on the expenditure of billions of dollars by the FAA for technologies that will serve as its backbone," added DeCota.

GBAS, however, is ready to be tested now. The system utilizes a series of antennas and receivers set around the airport’s grounds and a VHF “datalink” to navigational satellites, which communicate together on aircraft position. Sensors are used to bolster the accuracy, availability and reliability of the satellite signals.

The technology is particularly beneficial in low visibility landing conditions.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Ron Marsico, 212-435-7777

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, Stewart International and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge and Bus Station; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit system; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Port Authority Auto Marine Terminal; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; the Greenville Yard-Port Authority Marine Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan and is a partner in the Access to the Region’s Core tunnel project.

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