The first geostationary satellite for India’s Gagan GPS space-based augmentation system (SBAS)–essentially similar to Waas–was lost on April 15 when its launch rocket’s second-stage cryogenic engine failed to ignite. That followed the early-April loss of Intelsat’s Galaxy 15 geosat, which was carrying the FAA’s Pacific Waas transponder. The satellite was slowly drifting out of orbit and could no longer provide usable GPS accuracy corrections.
The U.S. Coast Guard and its parent, the Department of Homeland Security, on January 7 announced that U.S. loran-C stations will be progressively shut down between February and October, since everyone now uses GPS for navigation. The banks and the communications industry also moved from loran to the slightly more accurate GPS for split-second transaction timing for our ATMs and our cellphones.
The U.S. Coast Guard and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, announced earlier this month that loran-C stations in the U.S. will be progressively shut down between next month and October. The U.S. considers maintaining its loran station network, costing $36 million per year, unaffordable.
Testifying before Congress in May, Stanford University professor Brad Parkinson–the chief architect of GPS and the original GPS program manager before his retirement from the USAF–echoed the concern of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that there will be insufficient backup satellites to fill gaps in the constellation before the DOD’s forecast 2014 launches of its next-generation GPS III units. (see AIN, June, page one.)
GPS service is in danger of severe erosion, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). A Congressional “watchdog” of programs and spending of government departments, the GAO warns that the satellite navigation service could slowly worsen after 2010, and not recover to acceptable aviation levels before 2022.
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.
Accord Technology (Booth No. 520) is promoting its NexNav line of GPS WAAS receiver technology, which supports LP/LPV approaches and new ADS-B standards. A joint venture of Accord Software & Systems of Bangalore, India, and NexGen Avionics, Accord is also announcing appointments of R. Shenoy Manur, CEO; Hal Adams, COO; and Randy Shimon, v-p, engineering and compliance.
How times change. In the 1990s, the Departments of State and Commerce, backed by the Department of Defense and the GPS industry, were busy persuading foreign nations that with GPS available to everyone worldwide, they shouldn’t waste their money launching their own satnav systems. But the genie got out of the bottle anyway.
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.
NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey last month said it incorporated 43 new GPS tracking sites into the continuously operating reference station (CORS) network, including 13 sites established by the FAA as part of its wide area augmentation system (WAAS). Four of the new WAAS sites are located in Alaska, four in Canada and five in Mexico. The network now consists of more than 1,200 sites worldwide.