The FAA has issued a proposed plan to transition the national airspace system (NAS) to a performance-based navigation system that relies on GPS and “area navigation everywhere and required navigation performance where beneficial,” instead of defining airways, routes and procedures using VORs and other legacy navaids. A minimum operational network of VORs and an “optimized network” of DMEs would be retained, and this drawdown would be complete by Jan. 1, 2020.
According to the FAA, 80 percent of the 967 VORs in the NAS are past their service life, and “replacement parts are becoming more difficult to obtain. The replacement of all the VORs would cost over $1 billion.”
The legacy navaids include tactical air navigation azimuth, VOR/Tacan, VOR/DME and non-directional beacons operated by the FAA. The plan would also include developing new Category I instrument approaches using Waas localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) procedures, but some existing ILSes “would be sustained to provide alternative approach and landing capabilities to continue recovery and dispatch of aircraft during GPS outages.” The FAA is seeking comments on the proposal on or before March 7 (go to www.regulations.gov).