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No More Wasting Time Waiting to Land at SFO, Airport Gets New Nav System

It is called SmartPath Ground-Based Augmentation System (GBAS), and it is a technology meant to revolutionize the way planes are handled as they approach airports. Already deployed in two locations, in Newark at the Liberty Airport and in Houston at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the system is presently getting ready for deployment at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
San Francisco Airport getting new SmartPath system 1 photo
Photo: Honeywell
Described by its maker, American company Honeywell, as “the world’s only certified satellite-based navigation and precision landing system,” SmartPath is designed in such a way as to handle a multitude of airplanes approaching multiple runways simultaneously, while at the same time providing pilots with the best and shortest approach route.

More to the point, unlike the current Instrument Landing System used at SFO and elsewhere, which can handle just one precision approach to one runway end at a time, SmartPath is capable of handling 48 approaches and covers all runway ends.

Capable of operating in all weather conditions, the Honeywell system sends data to the aircraft, guiding it down the most direct flight path. The aircraft and their pilots could also be told what paths to take from further out and even at higher altitudes.

This approach reduces the time the aircraft spends in the air, burning fuel as it often is required to circle and wait for a runway to clear for landing, and hence could cut down on fuel consumption.

Honeywell says the smarter distribution of approach paths could also lead to reduced noise in the areas surrounding the airport.

Neither Honeywell nor SFO’s reps said when exactly the system should be up and running in San Francisco. We’re told it should be done with sometime by the end of this year and should be able to handle the needs of the local airport “for decades to come.”
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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