Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Aviation Systems

Major Professor

Robert B. Richards

Committee Members

Ralph D. Kimberlin, Charles T. N. Paludan


The Precision Approach and Landing System (PALS) is an Electronic Landing Aid (ELA) installed aboard all operational Naval Aircraft Carriers and is designed to provide an all-weather approach and recovery capability during daylight or darkness with minimum interference from conditions of severe weather and sea state for carrier based aircraft. The PALS consists of the AN/SPN-46 Automatic Carrier Landing System, the AN/SPN-41 Independent Landing Monitor/Instrument Carrier Landing System, and a qualified aircraft. PALS is capable of three modes of operation; fully automatic, pilot manual control based on cockpit displays of glide slope and centerline error data, and pilot manual control based on approach controller talk down. Whether performing a fully automatic or a manual approach, consistent and reliable operation of the PALS is paramount in instilling aviator confidence in the system. Erroneous or conflicting data between the sub-systems may cause the aviator to abandon the PALS in favor of a higher workload, manual, non-precision approach. Naval Air Systems Command instruction establishes the general criteria by which certification of the PALS is required. This thesis discusses the methodology used to certify PALS for proper and safe operation aboard modern naval aircraft carriers. These discussions also include operational considerations, which must be made relative to operating in the shipboard environment.

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