US: Intelsat’s Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), which broadcasts GPS corrections to aviators across North America, has suffered a setback after one of its two satellites failed. Intelsat lost control of the satellite in early April it is now feared that the satellite will drift out of orbit by the end of this month.
The most immediate impact will be felt in northwestern Alaska, where service will be unavailable at 16 airports. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that due to the lack of redundant coverage, WAAS users across North America may experience temporary service interruptions. A replacement satellite should launched by the end of this year; meanwhile, the FAA is looking at other options to mitigate the impact.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) raised questions last year about the lack of redundancy in the GPS system. “It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption. If not, some military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected,” warned GAO.