Re: Peruvian 757 crash -- possible cause reported

Date:         21 Nov 96 03:02:18 
From:         jlund@aztec.asu.edu (JAMES H. LUND)
Organization: Arizona State University
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I've been reading all the usual excuses, but no real reason why the
good old USA, where GPS was invented, still do not have GPS equipment
in most commercial aircraft, even for use as a back-up.  Why not
consider a few reasons for installation?


Reason 1: GPS also provides reliable information on altitude and speed,
and makes an extremely useful back up, even when not being used for the
primary navigation device.  They often also include a memory database
to warn of infringement of restricted airspace, and emergency features
to give you quick reference to alternate airports including distance,
direction, etc.

Reason 2: Many of the newer GPS units also have a battery built in,
which means the system can operate completely independent of all the
aircraft systems.  In the event of complete EFIS system failure, and/or
electrical system failure (which seems to still keep happening in the
real world), what system is better qualified to serve as a stand-by
or back-up information system for our cockpit crews?

Reason 3:  The price of FAA certified GPS receivers is not that high.
Even when certified for IFR enroute navigation.  Many general aviation
aircraft have FAA certified GPS on board and are doing away with the
ADF, Loran and other equipment.  While you wouldn't want a $300 hand-
held GPS, neither do you need a $20,000 mil spec unit.

Reason 4: As an FAA licensed pilot, aircraft mechanic and inspector, I
can assure you that installation costs for GPS are not all that high.
Especially when they do not need to be integrated into the FMS, EFIS,
etc.  Total integration of all the instrument systems may be more
convenient when everything is working; unfortunately people are dying
in the process of discovering that our near perfect aircraft still
malfunction occasionally.

Reason 5: Some third world countries have already adopted GPS as a
standard enroute navigation device.  Several of them have made it
mandatory.  While most are not certified for precision approaches,
it is highly reliable and accurate for navigation.

So, why is GPS installation is considered too expensive?  Just how
many aircraft could be equipped for the price of 1 Boeing 757 aircraft
lost recently due to malfunctioning cockpit EFIS systems?  Or, to ask
another way, how much is that cost, relative to the insurance premium
increase when we lose an aircraft worth $60+ million, and then face
lawsuits from the families of hundreds of passengers?  Would a series
of lawsuits against airlines for negligence (failure to buy an and use
readily available technology) to convince the bean counters and
bureaucrats (in the government and in the airlines) to consider all
available alternatives?

Jim Lund

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