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The FAA is allowing San Francisco International Airport to implement a new instrument landing system the airport hopes will allow it to design approaches that reduce noise for its neighbors. The Ground-Based Augmentation System (GBAS) uses ground stations arrayed at the airport to make corrections to errors inherent in the GPS signals that are broadcast by the satellites. The corrected signals are then transmitted to aircraft, offering position accuracy to within an inch compared to 150 feet from regular GPS. That will allow for much higher precision for operations in bad weather. This is the first certification of the system in the U.S.

For now, SFO will use the system on instrument approaches that are already in use but within a few years it hopes to design new approaches that will allow inbound aircraft to stay higher for longer and lessen noise impact. “There are many potential benefits to GBAS, but our primary hope for this technology is to help reduce aircraft noise in our communities,” said Airport Director Ivar Satero. “We have much more work to do, but this is a critical first step.” The SFO implementation is also expected to pave the way for other airports to install the system.

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