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FAA Delays Air Navigation System

January 5, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government today delayed its planned start of a $1 billion satellite-based airplane navigation system after a contractor determined designing software was taking longer than anticipated.

The first phase of the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) was to have entered service in July. Instead, the Federal Aviation Administration said the date has been pushed back 14 months to September 2000.

The system will allow planes to navigate using the Global Position System satellite network instead of ground-based radio signals. The technology is needed to correct the standard GPS signals, which are purposely degraded by the military, to provide the pinpoint accuracy, integrity and reliability needed for civil aviation navigation.

Establishment of a satellite-based system will allow the FAA to phase out its costly network of ground-based navigational aids.

The FAA has completed work on all the required hardware for the first phase of the system, including 25 ground reference stations. It also has completed work on all software except a final element, the correction and verification system.

The schedule change comes after the system’s contractor, the Raytheon Co., found that designing that system was ``a much greater challenge than originally anticipated,″ said Steven Zaidman, associate administrator for research and acquisition.

FAA Administrator Jane Garvey said that despite the delay, ``The FAA remains committed to the implementation of WAAS because of its safety benefits.″

An agency spokesman said the FAA and Raytheon are revising their contract to account for the delay. As to the added cost, ``We are working that out with Raytheon,″ said FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto.

In 1994, the project had an estimated cost of $509 million. The most recent FAA estimate is just over $1 billion.

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