GPS & WAAS Instrument Procedure Design FAQ

Q: What are instrument approaches?

Q: Doesn’t air traffic control do this?

Q: What is GPS?

Q: What are the infrastructure requirements to have GPS and WAAS approaches at our airport?

Q: Who would use GPS and WAAS approaches?

Q: What are the advantages of WAAS over GPS?

WAAS is a more sophisticated form of GPS. It offers the following advantages:

  1. WAAS, being more accurate, creates lower approach minimums than GPS.
  2. WAAS provides many safety advantage – aviation experts predict that WAAS will reduce accidents by 80% during instrument approaches. This is one of the reasons why Alberta Health Services is urging WAAS approaches be implemented to their medivac airports.

Q: What are approach minimums?

Q: What are the benefits of lower approach minimums?

Q: What are the other advantages of WAAS?

Q: If we get GPS approaches, will they ever have to be redesigned?

Q: Our airport already has GPS approaches. Why would we get new approaches designed?

Q: STARS (or other helicopter) Air Ambulance services already serves our community; what are the advantages of improving our airport access in that case?

  1. First, STARS has limited capabilities in poor weather thus if it is snowing, raining or foggy STARS likely will be unable to perform its role.
  2. STARS helicopters cannot fly in icing conditions great than light icing, thus limiting their utility in poor weather.
  3. Alberta Health uses a number of fixed wing air carriers to compliment STARS – i.e. CANWEST, Alberta Central Airways, ect. these aircraft are able to operate in ALL weather conditions and can provide medivac operations in weather conditions when STARS would be grounded.
  4. Although STARS may serve the community, STARS instrument approaches do not generally allow them to descend below 500 or more feet above the hospital - thereby limiting their ability to reliably dispatch at anytime.
  5. The GPS airport instrument procedures can be as low as 250 ft; STARS would then be able to use the airport thus allowing them to access the community when it was previously unable to.

Q: What about our existing navigation aids at the airport – the Non-Directional Beacon (NDB) and the Distance Measuring Equipment (DME)?

Q: If we decommission the NDB and DME, what impact will have upon those using the airport?

Q: What experience does JetPro have at doing this work?

Q: What does the airport operator need to do in the design of the procedures?

Q: What is the procedure design process?

The design process involves many steps. The major steps are:

  1. Airport and runway survey – to determine the exact location of the runway to a high degree of accuracy using modern GPS survey equipment
  2. Digital Map and Obstacle Collection – Gather local terrain data (Digital Elevation Models - DEMs, LiDar, ect.), local vegetation heights, and obstacles located within 100 miles from the airport or aerodrome to synthesize into a digital map used by the designer.
  3. Procedure design – apply the engineering design instructions to create the procedure(s)
  4. Procedure verification (quality assurance) – an independent review of the procedure to insure its compliance with the engineering instructions
  5. Flight check/validation – an airborne evaluation of the procedure to insure it is designed properly and is safe. This is mandated by Transport Canada and must be done by the design organziation (TP308/GPH 209 Change 8.0 Para 120(g) - Flight Validation)
  6. Submission to NAV CANADA for publication – NAV CANADA, by law, is the sole authority that may process the completed design packages.

Q: Isn’t designing these procedures a Government of Canada (Transport Canada) responsibility?

Q: Does Transport Canada have to approve this work before it is implemented?

Q: Is JetPro licensed by Transport Canada for this type of activity?


  1. Is an accredited engineering firm with an Alberta Professional Engineers Geologists and Geophysicists (APEGGA) Permit to Practice.
  2. Has one Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) on staff with two Engineers in Training (E.I.T.'s).
  3. Has computer science and mathematics graduates on staff.
  4. Carries comprehensive liability insurance
  5. Has its own dedicated flight check/validation aircraft.
  6. Has its own dedicated land survey equipment and operators overseen by the P.Eng. on staff.

In many ways JetPro exceeds the minimum qualification requirements by Transport Canada and other agencies.

Q: What about the runway survey? Can we provide that information?

Q: What is the airport assessment about?

When JetPro does the survey work at an airport, we assess the airport for two major items. They are:

  1. Runway classification: a runway can be considered non-instrument and non- precision. A non-instrument runway is the most basic form of a runway and the instrument approaches can only be allowed to as low as 500 ft above the airport. The next level of classification is non-precision and this would allow the approaches to as low as 250 ft above the runway.
  2. Glideslope Qualification Surface (GQS) – a key component in designing the WAAS approaches is assessing the GQS. This can only be performed at the airport.

Recently, JetPro has aquired a survey grade UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) that will be used to provide comprehensive survey data for the airport/aerodrome environment. We are working with Transport Canada for certification and training at this time for implementation sometime in 2021.

JetPro uses state-of-the-art survey and laser measuring equipment to perform all of these functions.

Q: Flight checking – what is that all about?

Q: Can any aircraft be used for flight checking?

Q: How long does it take to implement these approach procedures?

Q: Are there any ongoing costs?

Q: What is involved in the “Procedure Maintenance Program”?

Q: Are there any other benefits to the “Procedure Maintenance Program”?

Q: Periodically we have dealings with Transport Canada regarding our airport. Is there anything that can be done to assist us with this?

Q: Is JetPro insured for this type of work?