Alaska Seaplanes announces launch of ‘game changing’ technology to increase reliability

Pilot Josh Griffin flying an Alaska Seaplanes Cessna Caravan EX referring to the new Garmin navigation system. (Photo provided by Alaska Seaplanes)

Haines, Alaska (KINY) – On May 2, Alaska Seaplanes unveiled new technology that has dramatically increased the reliability of flights in inclement weather to several destinations throughout Southeast Alaska.

New state-of-the-art GPS navigation equipment installed in the company’s wheeled aircraft allow for recently approved approaches to be implemented, which has already seen a marked decrease in the number of delays and cancellations of flights due to weather.

“These approaches will improve our reliability because they give us another option for getting in and out when the weather is too low for Visual Flight Rules, or VFR, particularly enroute,” Assistant Chief Pilot for Alaska Seaplanes, Gregg Hake, said. “It’s going to make a big difference to many of the communities we serve – specifically Haines, Juneau, Sitka, Kake and Hoonah.”

Hake was in Haines to meet with the community and demonstrate the new approaches. He said that while weather will always be a factor in aviation, Alaska Seaplanes’ long-term goal is to approach the reliability of jet travel that consumers are used to in larger communities.

“These new approaches and new technologies allow us to use Instrument Flight Rules, or IFR, into more communities and at increased precision, which increases overall safety and dramatically reduces the number of times we need to cancel flights,” Hake said.

The heart of the system is new Garmin instrumentation, paired with proprietary new flight approaches that have had a multi-year approval process through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The new GPS systems are much more accurate than previous generations of the technology, allowing for more exacting flight paths into these communities.

“We think it is going to be a game-changer for our customers in terms of being able to count on flights arriving and departing in our typical Southeast weather,” Hake said. “We know that people are relying on getting where they need to go, as well as their freight and mail. These new approaches get us there – it’s incredibly exciting and in the few months we’ve been using the new approaches, we’ve already seen a big difference.”

The new technology allowing for these approaches is already installed in most of the Alaska Seaplanes Cessna Caravans, and in all the company’s Pilatus PC-12 aircraft.