GPS will be nation's primary navigation tool

GPS will be nation's primary navigation tool

The Transportation and Defense departments will strengthen the Global Positioning System to make it the nation's primary means of navigation, according to a joint plan released today.

The new Federal Radionavigation Plan outlines the strategies for GPS, Loran-C, and instrument and microwave landing systems. The two departments want to make the civilian and military systems work more smoothly, eliminate duplication and supply reliable, accurate transportation data.

Transportation secretary Norman Y. Mineta said the department seeks 'a sensible transition to satellite-based navigation services as our primary means of navigation, while recognizing the need to maintain backup navigation aids.'

FAA will add more GPS signals for civilian use, said Michael Shaw, Transportation's director of radio and navigation. He said more signals will be added in 2003 and 2005. 'From the upgrade, we gain protection from disruption and get accurate signals,' Shaw said [see story at www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/daily-updates/18130-1.html].

Last year, a study by the two departments said GPS navigation is vulnerable to atmospheric and communications equipment interference as well as potential deliberate disruption.

The new plan will expand the Maritime Differential GPS Service, used in coastal areas such as Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, to all surface users.

FAA will look at the long-term need for Loran-C, which supplies navigation, location and timing services to civilian and military air, land and marine users.

One effect of the plan is that pilots' use of instrument landing systems during poor visibility conditions will diminish as their use of GPS systems increases.

FAA has halted developing and installing the microwave landing system, used by the Air Force, in favor of GPS.

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