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Ohio University avionics leader receives top honor Oct 15, 2009

By Courtney Kessler The founder of Ohio University's Avionics Engineering Center has received a leading award in the field of aviation navigation. Richard H. McFarland, director emeritus of the Avionics Engineering Center and professor emeritus of electrical engineering, received the President's Citation of Merit Award at the Air Traffic Controllers Association (ATCA) conference Monday in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes his more than 40 years of research and development in aircraft navigation and landing systems that have promoted air travel safety and dependability worldwide. Richard McFarland

McFarland founded the Avionics Engineering Center, part of the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology, in 1963. It is now the largest center of its kind in the U.S., providing aviation solutions to the FAA, NASA and major international airports and industry leaders. Primarily based on navigation, communication and surveillance, the center's research helped develop mathematical models for predicting performance of the Instrument Landing System (ILS), which is today's main approach and landing system along with the Global Positioning System (GPS).

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The award citation recognizes that such research shaped air travel as we know it. "Their pioneering work on vertical navigation associated with instrument landing and later on the early application of LORAN (long range navigation) and satellite navigation for civil aviation laid the ground work for the safety and dependability of the services we routinely rely on today," reads the citation.

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McFarland said he was particularly proud of his work with students over the years. "I've had some outstanding students who have done a magnificent job bringing theory to practice with aircraft operations," he said.

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