The FAA’s original plan to transition to sole-means GPS is no longer practical and some form of backup will be required for the foreseeable future, according to speakers at a recent Navigation Industry Day. This event was sponsored by the DOT, FAA and Civil Aviation Advanced Systems Development (CAASD), which is a component of the federally-funded MITRE research and development center and a key FAA think-tank resource.
Speakers from Eurocontrol and the European Space Agency last month informed attendees at a meeting of the FAA’s Satellite Operational Implementation Team (SOIT) that their organizations would accept liability for system failures when the Galileo satnav system was used in critical applications requiring high-accuracy guidance, such as approach and landing operations.
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.