Federal navigation plan released

The departments of Defense and Transportation on Friday released a long-awaited joint plan to guide radionavigation policy and planning for the federal government.

The 1999 Federal Radionavigation Plan, which has been delayed for a year because of policy and funding issues, outlines the structure and operations of common-use systems such as the 27-satellite Global Positioning System. The plan, which is updated every two years, is intended to reflect the administration's commitment to modernizing the GPS satellites for civil users.

The FRP includes provisions for two additional GPS signals for civil use and a revised schedule for making the transition to GPS as a primary navigation aid for the aviation industry, according to a Transportation Department statement. The plan calls for the government to continue operating Loran-C, a 24-hour a day radionavigation system used for marine navigation and non-precision landing approaches for aircraft. The administration continues to evaluate the long-term need for the system and the FAA has requested $20 million in 2001 for Loran-C upgrades.

Consolidating and reducing the number of navigation systems as GPS is phased in is an objective of both agencies, according to the FRP.

"The selection of an optimum mix to satisfy user needs, while holding the number of systems and costs to a minimum, involves complex operational, technical, institutional, international and economic tradeoffs. This plan establishes a means to address user inputs and questions, and arrive at an optimum mix determination," the FRP said.

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to transition to providing satellite navigation services based primarily on GPS augmented by the Wide-Area Augmentation System and the Local-Area Augmentation System. The transition period will begin when it's possible for a pilot to navigate throughout the National Air Space using only satellite navigation. That will occur when WAAS achieves its full operational capability, according to the FRP.

The transition is planned to begin in 2008, the FRP said.

The plan can be found at www.navcen.uscg.mil/frp/.

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