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.
Satellite navigation systems
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.
Honeywell’s SmartPath precision-landing system recently became the only ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) to receive FAA approval. GBAS monitors GPS signals to detect errors and augment accuracy by transmitting correction messages to aircraft, providing precision-approach guidance to all qualifying runways at an airport.
Poised to chip away at flight-planning monolith Universal, Air Routing unveils a new suite of online flight-planning products and services this month. Existing clients can use the new system October 1; new clients can sign up at the NBAA Convention later this month.
Rockwell Collins last month wrapped up flight testing of a WAAS/LPV (wide-area augmentation system/localizer performance with vertical guidance) upgrade for the Pro Line 21 avionics system in the Hawker 800XP. The STC issued last month will allow Hawker 800XP operators equipped with Pro Line 21 to take advantage of the more than 1,500 WAAS/LPV approaches created so far.
Testifying before Congress in May, Stanford University professor Brad Parkinson–the chief architect of GPS and the original GPS program manager before his retirement from the USAF–echoed the concern of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that there will be insufficient backup satellites to fill gaps in the constellation before the DOD’s forecast 2014 launches of its next-generation GPS III units. (see AIN, June, page one.)
One key benefit of the future GPS III satellites that the DOD plans to launch in 2014 is that they will transmit a second civil aviation signal, called L-5, that new receivers will compare with today’s L-1 civil signals to eliminate ionospheric interference, the last major cause of GPS errors.
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.
GPS-based Laas and Jpals landing system developments are moving ahead for civil and military operations. Laas, the local-area augmentation system (or, in ICAO-ese, GBAS, for ground-based augmentation system), is intended eventually to replace civil ILS Cat III, while Jpals (joint precision approach and landing system) will provide all-weather autoland guidance for the Navy’s aircraft and UAVs.
On March 10 next year the FAA is expected to issue its final rule covering mandatory equipage of ADS-B avionics, and agency officials are tight lipped about what, if any, changes will be made to the original draft rule offered for industry comment early last year.