Embry-Riddle to test precision landing approaches for GA airports

A team of researchers at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has received funding for a project to assess the performance of pilots when they land small airplanes at general aviation airports using an approach normally employed at airports with longer runways. The results could help shed light on the feasibility of letting GA aircraft use GPS-aided approaches at GA airports.

In the project, funded by the FAA and sponsored by the MITRE Corporation, instrument-rated pilots from central Florida will conduct approaches and landings using a Level 6 Cessna flight simulator that can replicate low-visibility conditions. The research, led by Dr. Michael Wiggins, professor of aeronautical science, will take place at Embry-Riddle’s campus in Daytona Beach, Fla., beginning next summer.

The purpose of the research is to see if precision approaches normally used to land on longer runways can be used for landing at the shorter and narrower runways found at small airports, Embry-Riddle officials said.

In the study, pilots will simulate GPS-guided approaches down to the minimum altitude they can fly to in poor visibility and land using various simulated runway and lighting conditions. The project will help researchers evaluate different runway and lighting conditions at smaller airports and assess the feasibility of letting the GPS instruments guide small planes to lower altitudes in conditions of poor visibility, officials noted.

Pilots for the project will be recruited beginning in the spring of 2013.

For more information: EmbryRiddle.edu

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