Just when many thought loran was dead, it is coming back, albeit in a different guise. The President’s recently released FY2009 budget includes funding for the Coast Guard to continue operating the current loran network in readiness for its upgrade in 2009 to enhanced loran (eLoran).
It took several years for the U.S. and the European Union to reach agreement about satellite navigation systems, but the cooperation agreement the parties signed in June that paves the way for the Galileo and GPS satellite navigation systems should be beneficial to both sides, and to aviation worldwide.
Much positive news about the future of civil air navigation broke late last year. Russia and Europe signed agreements to secure the future of their respective satnav systems, Russia’s GPS-like global navigation satellite system (Glonass) and Europe’s Galileo; the White House Office of Science and Technology published a U.S.
Galileo, Europe’s $4.2 billion rival to GPS, is in jeopardy of cancellation following clashes between EU nations over project budgeting, officials said. Several EU nations have voiced concern about Galileo’s high cost, complaining they have been left out of commercial bidding negotiations. The first Galileo satellites need to be launched by 2005 or Europe may have to forfeit frequencies allotted by the International Telecommunications Union.
As part of its evaluation of loran as a potential backup to GPS, the FAA has contracted Rock-well Collins to build a combined GPS/loran variant of its standard multimode navigation and landing receiver. The unit’s primary function will be to provide GPS navigation, with automatic switchover to loran should GPS signals be lost or degraded, and automatic reversion to GPS when normal service resumes.
LAAS could end up being overtaken by a combination of the FAA’s WAAS and Europe’s GPS equivalent, Galileo. While official speakers at last month’s U.S.
A study commissioned by the NGATS Institute on behalf of the FAA’s JPDO and prepared by the advanced engineering and sciences division of ITT determined that eLoran (for enhanced) has “the highest overall preference rating…particularly in the U.S.” as a backup for satnav receivers in the event of failure or interference.
The DOD’s Navstar GPS reached a new performance level this year, with 30 satellites in orbit versus its minimum required civil complement of 24. Four more satellites add signal coverage and reduce the number of occasional “holes,” or gaps where fix geometry can sometimes fall below navigation standards.
The U.S. Air Force last month reiterated its intention to choose a single contractor for a new constellation of global positioning satellites known as GPS III. Teams led by Lockheed Martin and Boeing are competing for the contract to launch eight Block A GPS III satellites by 2013. The Air Force invited bids last month for these first satellites, the foundation for an enhanced system scheduled to start operating in 2018.
Members of the Transport, Telecommunication and Energy Council of the European Union have accepted a proposal by the European Commission to assume control of Galileo, the European satellite-based navigation program.