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.
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.