Questions relating to the Development of the Microwave Landing System

PSAD-79-3: Published: Oct 27, 1978. Publicly Released: Oct 27, 1978.

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Several questions were posed relating to the development of the Microwave Landing System (MLS) by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). An FAA employee retired from the FAA on December 31, 1974, and signed a consulting agreement with a private company. On January 23, 1975, he was appointed as an advisor to the FAA MLS Executive Committee formed to consider selection of systems. Although there was no conflict of interest, the agreement was terminated to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. No specific appropriation request was made by FAA for promotion funds for the Time Reference Scanning Beam (TRSB), and a separate account within the FAA operations appropriations account provided accounting for promotion of TRSB. No economic concessions were made by the FAA or any U.S. Government representative in order to secure TRSB votes. The FAA estimates that the MLS program will cost about $112.6 million, and the Department of Defense and NASA programs will cost $65 to $75 million and $4.6 million, respectively. This amounts to $90 million to $100 million more than the amount originally requested. The narrow TRSB configurations are ready for production, but the basic (wide) configuration requires further development. Cost estimates submitted to the FAA were based on 1976 prices. A contract could have been negotiated to continue testing of the COMPACT antenna beyond February or March 1977, but FAA felt that the test objective was achieved and that further testing would not have been worthwhile.

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