The U.S. Coast Guard and its parent, the Department of Homeland Security, on January 7 announced that U.S. loran-C stations will be progressively shut down between February and October, since everyone now uses GPS for navigation. The banks and the communications industry also moved from loran to the slightly more accurate GPS for split-second transaction timing for our ATMs and our cellphones.
GE Aviation acquired Naverus, the Kent, Wash.-based supplier of performance-based navigation (PBN) services. Among these services are required navigation performance (RNP) procedure development, PBN procedure maintenance, operations support and consulting for airlines, air navigation service providers and airports.
Helileo (Hall 4 Stand E66), a Galileo test bed and expert company located in Aerospace Valley of southwest France, is offering flight testing services to manufacturers of GPS, EGNOS and Galileo receivers. Under an original program, the French start-up company plans to have one engineer testing hardware during French Army pilot training flights operated by Helidax, a private venture, with Eurocopter EC 120 helicopters.
Starting next month, Airbus subsidiary Quovadis will begin offering required navigation performance (RNP) services to airlines, airports and authorities. RNP requires the use of state-of-the-art onboard navigation systems and GPS technology and is recommended by the ICAO especially for reducing flight time and fuel consumption. Services provided will range from RNP procedures design, testing and flight operations packaging to training.
GPS service is in danger of severe erosion, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). A Congressional “watchdog” of programs and spending of government departments, the GAO warns that the satellite navigation service could slowly worsen after 2010, and not recover to acceptable aviation levels before 2022.
While GPS is currently leading the pack in terms of satnav system implementation, at a recent UN International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems conference it was clear that competing systems are getting closer and could overtake it during the next decade. Presentations from Europe, Russia and China described active developments of worldwide satnav constellations, while India and Japan are moving ahead with regional networks.
The FAA has delayed until March 12 implementation of a new low-altitude area navigation route (Rnav), T-254, in the vicinity of the Houston terminal area. The delay is needed for additional processing and charting time. The route was scheduled to take effect January 15.
How times change. In the 1990s, the Departments of State and Commerce, backed by the Department of Defense and the GPS industry, were busy persuading foreign nations that with GPS available to everyone worldwide, they shouldn’t waste their money launching their own satnav systems. But the genie got out of the bottle anyway.
It’s certainly a comforting feeling, watching the avionics techs remove old black boxes from your airplane and replace them with the latest units on the market. You’ll now enjoy much better performance, vastly improved reliability, great warranty support and the latest technology that money can buy–but not for long.
European nations apparently have resolved their objections over budgeting of Galileo, Europe’s $4.2 billion rival to GPS. Several EU nations had voiced concern about Galileo’s high cost, with some countries, most recently Spain, complaining they had been left out of commercial bidding negotiations. Under the final plan, Spain’s share increases from 9.5 percent to 10.25 percent. The cost of Galileo is being shared by 15 European countries.