Nobody needs reminding how much debt the U.S. has amassed recently, but shutting down the loran system and hanging the future of ATC solely on satnav goes against the basic aeronautical tenets of backup, alternative load paths, redundancy and failsafe structure. Killing loran, we are told, will save our government about $35 million, no more than a decent bonus for one Wall Streeter.
The U.S. Coast Guard and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, announced earlier this month that loran-C stations in the U.S. will be progressively shut down between next month and October. The U.S. considers maintaining its loran station network, costing $36 million per year, unaffordable.
Come fall, the U.S. Congress will decide the fate of loran and its successor eLoran when members of the Congressional House and Senate Appropriations Committees meet in conference to determine which of their respective favored projects will live on and which will not.
Under a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill for fiscal year 2010 that was passed by the House last week, lawmakers lauded the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for working with general aviation stakeholders to develop a modified Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) rule that “minimizes adverse affects on general aviation while addressing security concerns.” H.R.2892 urges the TSA to “weigh all the costs and benefit
A last-minute change in U.S. loran policy has raised serious concerns among international navigation and security organizations. In late February, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) removed loran-C funding from the President’s budget, provoking an immediate response from the UK.
The removal in February of Loran-C and eLoran funding from President Obama’s proposed budget has drawn strong protest from the UK over the sudden U.S. policy reversal. Last year, the U.S.
Operators in the future will possibly be able to use X-rays from pulsating stars–or pulsars– light years away from earth to navigate with the same accuracy as GPS.
At recent public hearings in Washington, D.C., and Albuquerque, N.M., DOD and DOT representatives reviewed the departments’ policies toward the provision of radionavigation services to the U.S. civil user community between now and 2020. The hearings were held to solicit user comments on those policies before publication of this year’s federal radionavigation plan (FRP), which will be available by year-end.
To counter the possibility of jammed and “spoofed” signals, the authors of a U.S. Department of Transportation report on GPS vulnerability released on September 10 recommend that GPS not be relied upon as the sole source in critical applications, including precision approaches.
Three senators have written Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta in support of continuing the loran-C navigation system, as recently announced by the DOT, saying the move was long overdue.