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.
Satellite navigation systems
Other than the occasional contradiction, the recently released federal radionavigation plan (FRP) reveals few surprises. The FRP does, however, include a revised schedule
for the gradual phaseout of certain VOR, VOR/DME and ILS installations across the continental U.S., primarily following nationwide certification of WAAS. Originally planned to commence in 2008, the phaseout has now slipped to 2011.
DOT Secretary Norman Mineta announced last month an action plan aimed at mitigating the vulnerability of GPS to inadvertent interference and deliberate jamming, both of which were disclosed in a September 10 report by the DOT’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Mass.
In February, London Heathrow became the latest European airport to opt for the microwave landing system (MLS) as its future precision approach landing aid. The UK’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) ordered four Category III systems for Heathrow’s Runways 27R, 27L, 09R and 09L, all of which will be installed later this year.
Europe approved funding late last month to launch full development of the Galileo satellite navigation system, which will provide the EU with an alternative to GPS. Go-ahead for Galileo addresses Europe’s concerns that GPS is vulnerable to the wartime whim of its operator, the U.S. Department of Defense. Establishing the system is expected to cost $3 billion and employ 100,000 people.
Every spring the federal government departments must submit to Congress their proposed spending estimates for inclusion in the President’s budget for the next fiscal year. The estimates go first to separate appropriations committees in the House and Senate for review and the inclusion of any changes the legislators believe are necessary before being combined into the final budget.
At press time, bidders for the FAA’s Cat I local-area augmentation system (LAAS) ground station contract were awaiting a statement from the agency as to whether the program would proceed with a contract award, valued at around $800 million. After several delays during the summer, FAA officials advised the two bidders–one team being Raytheon and the French navaid company Thales (which earlier had acquired U.S.
The recent successful completion of a 60-day continuous performance test of the FAA’s wide-area augmentation system (WAAS) is expected to clear the way for full IFR use of the satellite navigation concept starting late next year. The question now is whether anyone will be able to use it.
The business and commuter aircraft products business of Trimble Navigation has been purchased by newly established FreeFlight Systems, a sister company of Aircraft Systems & Manufacturing of Georgetown, Texas. Business aviation veteran Steve Williams is president of FreeFlight Systems, which will be based in Waco, Texas.
The October announcement by Raytheon that it had won a Department of Defense contract–potentially worth $25 million–to develop next-generation anti-jamming systems for GPS underlines security specialists’ concern that GPS is now “an attractive target” for terrorists.