European taxpayers will shell out €2.4 billion ($3.25 billion) up front if a European Commission proposal that it assume control of the Galileo navigation program is approved. The executive body of the European Union announced its intentions after a consortium of eight private aerospace and telecom companies missed the May 10 deadline to appoint a CEO and submit plans to operate and maintain the system as a single company.
Today is the deadline for comments on last year’s announcement by the Department of Defense that it plans to remove its flight information publications (FLIP), digital aeronautical flight information file (DAFIF) and related aeronautical navigation digital and hardcopy publications from public sale.
In a statement that surprised Western observers, China announced late last year that it will launch its own 35-satellite, GPS-like global navigation system over the next several years. Thirty of these satellites will fly in medium-earth orbits at around 12,000 miles altitude, similar to that of GPS, while the remaining five will be equally spaced around the equator in WAAS-like geostationary orbits and perform a similar service.
The French civil aviation authority, DGAC, has published the first GNSS nonprecision approach procedure for a French airport and is working toward introducing approaches with vertical guidance (APVs) once the necessary augmentation of the GPS signals is available and the relevant ICAO design criteria become effective.
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.
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.
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.
British pilots are pushing for true headings to replace degrees magnetic when expressing aircraft direction and bearing. The British Airline Pilots Association and the Royal Institute of Navigation are working to persuade authorities to replace the magnetic reference system because they believe true headings are more accurate and are more cost effective operationally.
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.