It has been a decade since GPS navigation for commercial airliners was introduced, but less than half the U.S. fleet is fully equipped with the money-saving technology. Newer planes usually come with the updated avionics included, but retrofitting older aircraft is time-consuming and expensive. No one doubts the eventual benefits of the technology -- Southwest Airlines estimates it will save $64 million a year when its entire 737 fleet is equipped with GPS -- but slow FAA approval for new approaches has frustrated hopes for a short-term payback. Still, the Air Transport Association sees widespread adoption as all but inevitable. "It is absolutely where the industry is heading. Everyone will be there over a period of several years," says an ATA official.
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