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Hickok & Associates Inc. begins developing helicopter WAAS approaches

February 20, 2008  By Corrie

Feb. 20, 2008 - Hickok & Associates has become the first company in the world to develop and provide helicopter WAAS Localizer Performance (LP) and WAAS Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) instrument approaches.

Feb. 20, 2008 – On Jan. 17, 2008, Hickok & Associate’s Helicopter Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) Point-in-Space (PinS) approach construction criteria were approved by FAA and Hickok & Associates, Inc. became the first company in the world to develop and provide helicopter WAAS Localizer Performance (LP) and WAAS Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) instrument approaches.

“This has been a significant effort for our company,” said Stephen M. Hickok, president and founder of Hickok & Associates, Inc. “The effort first involved our developing the helicopter criteria to be used, preparing the technical proposal for approval by FAA to begin using that criteria, and developing software modifications to our company’s procedure development programs to begin developing helicopter WAAS LP/LPV procedures.”

Edwin D. McConkey, Senior Engineer and Technical Director, Hickok & Associates, Inc., wrote the new WAAS procedure development software programs. McConkey also wrote the company’s existing Copter RNAV (GPS) software programs, and Pans-Ops programs, and has a long history in flight testing for FAA criterion.

Developing the criteria to be used was the critical first step. Hickok & Associates created a matrix that combined sections from existing and draft FAA Orders and Policy, with new provisions for helicopter procedures, to develop its Helicopter WAAS LP/LPV criteria.


“Our goal was to establish a criterion that could be used for new helicopter WAAS procedures, and also to overlay most existing Copter RNAV (GPS) procedure with a WAAS LP/LPV final approach segment,” explains Hickok.
Hickok & Associates accelerated its intentions to offer the benefits of WAAS to the helicopter industry in late 2006 after FAA issued Draft FAA Order 8260.19D. “Draft .19D made clear FAA’s intention to require applying a 200-foot AAO (e.g. adverse assumption to encompass up to a 199’ unreported obstacle) to the highest terrain point outside of CFR Part-77 surfaces,” explains Hickok. “I understood FAA’s reasons, and that there was little rationale to argue their new 200 foot AAO. I also knew it would equate to increased Minimum Descent Altitudes on many Copter RNAV (GPS) procedures, and the only way to continue providing the most operationally effective instrument procedures to our customers’ heliports would be in the reduced lateral boundary area and ILS-Like obstacle clearance surfaces that only WAAS can provide.”

When FAA’s Order 8260.19D became effective on November 26, 2007, Hickok & Associates had already been using the new 200-foot AAO for nearly a year, “…to preclude amendments being required to our procedures during the first biennial maintenance review,” explains Hickok. Order 8260.19D also stipulates procedures be brought up to current criteria each two years. As for the company’s timing: Hickok & Associates had already finished its WAAS criteria development, met with a team from FAA, and submitted its WAAS criteria for FAA approval by the time FAA issued Order 8260.19D and it became effective.

“FAA AFS-400, which manage FAA’s instrument procedure program, was very receptive and helpful,” says Hickok. “Without the commitment of its managers and several key people we would not be able to offer helicopter WAAS procedures this soon.”

Hickok’s criteria significantly reduce lateral segment boundaries and provides vertically guided procedures with an ILS-like sloped obstacle clearance surface in the final segment. The special criteria also provides up to 90% reduction of precipitous terrain penalties, step-down fixes for WAAS LP, and significantly improved missed approach obstacle clearance surfaces.

About Hickok & Associates, Inc: Stephen M. Hickok, President, Hickok & Associates, Inc., has worked as project manager, chief investigator, or advisor on every helicopter GPS/GNSS criterion and policy since the early 1990’s. He became the first non-fed developer of instrument approaches to submit completed procedures to FAA, the first airman designated by FAA as a Procedure Evaluation Pilot (PEP), and has been developing helicopter GPS IFR approaches longer than any other developer in the world.

You can visit Hickok & Associates at Booth 1330 at Heli-Expo 2008, in Houston, TX


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