Loran advocates believe they are on a roll. A number of events that transpired so far this year, coupled with a government report on loran due soon, have boosted their confidence that this could be the year when their system finally gains its long-due recognition.
Boeing has formed an international industry team to compete for the contract to build and deploy the next generation of GPS satellites.
The Air Force plans to award the contract in early 2006 for the new GPS III satellites that will replace the ones currently in orbit and those scheduled for launch between now and when the GPS III satellites are ready.
In a letter to the Department of Transportation last month, AOPA renewed its support of loran as a possible low-cost, ideal backup to the future GPS-based ATC system. The letter went to the Coast Guard because it is responsible for operation and maintenance of loran.
A public survey by the DOT and Homeland Security drew more than 900 responses about whether Loran should be kept operational or shut down.
Few navigation systems have experienced the ups and downs of loran as they sought recognition. In December, a UK agency said the system is an essential back-up to GPS; the same month the FAA rejected it for the same purpose and an independent group of U.S. experts unanimously endorsed the system as a backup.
Federal agencies on January 8 issued a notice asking for the public’s help to decide if there is a need to continue to operate or invest in the loran-C radio navigation system beyond September 30. They gave the public only 30 days–until February 7–to submit comments.
Federal agencies are asking for the public’s help to decide if there is a need to continue to operate or invest in the loran-C radio navigation system beyond Fiscal Year 2007 (which ends September 30). While the current loran-C system is based on technology developed in the 1960s, some of the stations have been updated to allow for an enhanced signal (eLoran).
The French ministries of transport and defense have planned a global navigation satellite system (GNSS)/Loran C user information day on July 1 in Paris. “The information day is open to any person who has an activity related to the use of positioning or timing/synchronization information,” said the organizers. Focus will be on Loran C as a complement of GNSS.
Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, loran has once more rebounded from attempts on its life. Loran has always been owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, which since the late 1990s has been trying to close down the system. Congress has consistently demurred and has each year put continuing operating funds for loran back into the agency’s budget.
A special military facility dedicated to testing the vulnerability of GPS installations to deliberate jamming is now open to corporate pilots whose operations take them into, over or even near troubled parts of the world where jamming is becoming increasingly common.