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.
Selex Galileo, which produces the Falco tactical UAV, has recently integrated multiple reconnaissance sensors on the vehicle. With an mtow of only 1,078 pounds, the Falco may be the smallest UAV to carry both video and radar sensors. The Anglo-Italian company manufactures the sensors and the ground control system, as well as the air vehicle and its avionics.
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 service is in danger of severe erosion, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). A Congressional “watchdog” of programs and spending of government departments, the GAO warns that the satellite navigation service could slowly worsen after 2010, and not recover to acceptable aviation levels before 2022.
While GPS is currently leading the pack in terms of satnav system implementation, at a recent UN International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems conference it was clear that competing systems are getting closer and could overtake it during the next decade. Presentations from Europe, Russia and China described active developments of worldwide satnav constellations, while India and Japan are moving ahead with regional networks.
It’s certainly a comforting feeling, watching the avionics techs remove old black boxes from your airplane and replace them with the latest units on the market. You’ll now enjoy much better performance, vastly improved reliability, great warranty support and the latest technology that money can buy–but not for long.
European nations apparently have resolved their objections over budgeting of Galileo, Europe’s $4.2 billion rival to GPS. Several EU nations had voiced concern about Galileo’s high cost, with some countries, most recently Spain, complaining they had been left out of commercial bidding negotiations. Under the final plan, Spain’s share increases from 9.5 percent to 10.25 percent. The cost of Galileo is being shared by 15 European countries.
Last year was a challenging time for Galileo, Europe’s fledgling global navigation satellite system (GNSS). It started with the collapse of the private consortium established to build the system and culminated in European Union transport ministers making a “do or die” decision to allow the European Commission (EC) to manage the project in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA).
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.
Traditionally, Boeing and Airbus have used the Paris and Farnborough airshows to announce multimillion-dollar sales contracts, in the hope of one-upping the opposition. But at Farnborough this year–the first big post-September 11 air show–neither company had major announcements to make.