Russia plans to announce this month that its civil aviation fleet will be required to carry Glonass, that nation’s GNSS, or combined Glonass/GPS units, but not GPS on its own. The mandate will be unveiled at this month’s triennial ICAO Air Navigation Conference, and it has significant cost implications for western-built corporate aircraft on the Russian register, all or most of which likely carry just GPS. Foreign-registered aircraft flying in Russian airspace would be exempt from the rule.
So, first, who needs three more worldwide satnav systems, when we already have GPS? Why do these others want to spend billions just to keep up with the U.S.? There are two reasons: one political and the other practical. Politically, GPS has become a (not the) dominant technology in almost every part of human life around the world, in government, national security, industry and private life, with more than a billion receivers being used daily for thousands of applications, from simple to critical.
In its latest surprise move, would-be broadband provider LightSquared has morphed from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, with just a few months to find some closure with its creditors, to having an arrangement with them to allow it to continue in business and spend up to $190 million to fund its operations until September next year.
The basic precept of international GNSS is that public services will be available to all users without user charges or other fees. Separately, each system can transmit unique highly classified frequencies–such as the military codes used by the U.S.’s GPS, Russia’s Glonass, China’s Compass and the fee-paying civil applications for enhanced accuracy and integrity signals from Europe’s Galileo–but none affects public services.
LightSquared filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday, explaining that it needs “breathing room” to resolve regulatory issues that have prevented it from building its planned 4G broadband wireless network.
Blue Sky Network formed a partnership today with S4A (Solutions For Aviation), a supplier of aviation equipment and services based in El Puerto de Santa María, Spain. This new partnership will enable S4A to sell Blue Sky Network’s line of aviation products based on two-way messaging, voice and Iridium-based satellite tracking technology in Europe. When combined with SkyRouter, a secure cloud-based global mapping portal solution, Blue Sky Network’s two-way messaging transceivers allow constant and remote monitoring of aircraft through GPS position reports.
Today, most of us would probably rate cellphones, ATMs and the Internet as the three most useful modern gadgets we use regularly. We likely wouldn’t rank GPS up there, and maybe not even in the top 10. Yet without GPS, those three wouldn’t work too well, if at all, and neither would a host of other things that we depend on (reliable electrical power; banking systems; national and worldwide telecommunications, including air traffic control; and car navigation, to name a few). And with NextGen slowly approaching, aviation’s dependence on GPS will grow exponentially.
On Tuesday the FCC rejected LightSquared’s plans for a 4G broadband network in the L-band frequency, following a final recommendation by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is a joint panel consisting of nine federal agencies.
One of the supreme ironies of the ongoing LightSquared saga is that the company’s efforts to promote its nationwide email initiative are not helped when emails about its own activities, written by U.S. government bureaucrats, become public under Freedom of Information legislation.
Recent tests “did show that LightSquared signals caused harmful interference to the majority of other tested general-purpose GPS receivers,” according to a statement issued yesterday by Anthony Russo, director of the National Coordination Office, on behalf of the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing.