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.
In late summer, Jeff Williams, manager of the FAA’s newly established required navigation performance (RNP) program office, briefed a government/industry specialist group on the agency’s implementation for a nationwide public RNP plan.
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).
When the high-altitude redesign (HAR) portion of the FAA’s national airspace redesign program begins initial implementation this year, it will signal the beginning of the end for dependence on station-to-station navigation between ground-based Vortacs and represent a first step toward Free Flight, the Holy Grail of 21st century airspace management.
Officials for Jeppesen report that the company has identified and corrected many of the irregularities in its NavData boundary data, but at press time about 350 of the more than 20,000 boundaries included in the latest update of the database, effective March 20, had not yet been fixed. The error arose from problems with a software upgrade when data was pulled from a database containing airspace boundaries worldwide for the March update.
Honeywell late last week received FAA designation as a consultant for Required Navigation Performance Special Aircraft and Aircrew Authorization Required (RNP SAAAR) operational approvals. The move closely follows approval early this month for PlaneView-equipped Gulfstreams to fly RNP SAAAR procedures, which allow more precise approaches and departures, increasing operational efficiency and reducing operating costs, noise and emissions.
While EGNOS, SBAS, GBAS and Galileo may be unfamiliar to most North American aviators, they are key elements in Europe’s determined move to a satellite air traffic control environment. Addressing the FAA’s satellite operations implementation team meeting in December, Eurocontrol officials reported on progress toward their vision of