After 10 frustrating years of technical delays, escalating costs and contractor changes, the FAA’s GPS wide area augmentation system (WAAS) is approaching the level of performance the agency originally envisioned for it back in the late 1980s. With the system’s initial operational capability declared in 2003 and 18 months of satisfactory performance now behind them, WAAS advocates can see light at the end of the tunnel.
Satellite navigation systems
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.
China has disclosed that it intends to build a GPS-like global navigation system. Named Compass, the $2 billion system would have 30 satellites in medium earth orbits similar to the current GPS. Five additional satellites will provide WAAS-like and other functions, with a forecast 10-meter accuracy free to all users. Western experts predict likely operation between 2015 and 2020.
Boeing’s delivery in May of a 737-800 airliner certified for the global navigation satellite landing system (GLS) marked the culmination of a 10-year development effort. It also served as a reminder that the ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) still has a future, despite a U.S.
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.
While it may be hard to believe that the global positioning system (GPS) is already more than a quarter century old, it may be equally difficult to imagine that by 2020 there will be more than 100 navigation satellites crisscrossing in outer space, high above us. Yet the first is true and, barring unforeseen eventualities, the second will also be true.
GPS Satellite SVN-15 will celebrate its 16th birthday in space this month, and by next spring it will have circled the earth 12,000 times (roughly twice a day), continuously transmitting navigation signals to us. That’s amazing performance, especially considering that its original orbital life was expected to be 7.5 years.
CMC Electronics is displaying its latest aviation GPS receiver here at the show, incorporating wide-area augmentation system (WAAS) technology. The IntegriFlight CMA-5024 aviation GPS receiver on view at Booth No. 145 provides space-based augmentation system (SBAS) and GPS primary means navigation as well as GPS approach capability. It is configured for both retrofit and OEM installations.