The DOD’s Navstar GPS reached a new performance level this year, with 30 satellites in orbit versus its minimum required civil complement of 24. Four more satellites add signal coverage and reduce the number of occasional “holes,” or gaps where fix geometry can sometimes fall below navigation standards.
The U.S. Air Force last month reiterated its intention to choose a single contractor for a new constellation of global positioning satellites known as GPS III. Teams led by Lockheed Martin and Boeing are competing for the contract to launch eight Block A GPS III satellites by 2013. The Air Force invited bids last month for these first satellites, the foundation for an enhanced system scheduled to start operating in 2018.
Boeing has formed an international industry team to compete for the contract to build and deploy the next generation of GPS satellites.
The Air Force plans to award the contract in early 2006 for the new GPS III satellites that will replace the ones currently in orbit and those scheduled for launch between now and when the GPS III satellites are ready.
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.
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.
Since it was disclosed late last month that President Bush has directed the Department of Defense to draw up plans for temporarily disabling the U.S. network of GPS satellites during a national crisis to prevent terrorists from using the technology, operators have been seeking more details and clarification of the policy. How U.S. policy would apply to Galileo, Europe’s planned GPS network, is unknown.
The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) is conducting an industry-wide survey to quantify the effect of aviation maintenance on the economy. The confidential, Web-based survey is open to ARSA members and non-members.
They say that politics makes for strange bedfellows. So, it seems, does loran, which has recently been recognized by four quite disparate groups: the U.S. Congress, the government of France, the telecommunications industry and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). But in Washington, inter-agency budget struggles cloud further progress with the system.
Inmarsat announced it has been selected to manage the company that will look after Galileo’s global network operations, including performance monitoring and operations security.
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