Transportation and Defense department officials said Tuesday that the government would extend the life of VORs and NDBs, delaying plans to rely on GPS as the primary means of navigation. The 2001 Federal Radionavigation Plan would keep land-based radio navaids on the air until 2010, two years later than previously planned. If GPS/WAAS has been approved for primary-means navigation and a majority of users are equipped with GPS/WAAS receivers by 2010, the government would then begin to decommission most NDBs not associated with an ILS and some little-used VORs. DOT plans to make a decision on the future of loran sometime this year once studies on its viability as a supplement to GPS are completed. "This announcement provides aircraft owners adequate time for planning their navigation upgrades. It's important for the DOT to step up and provide the navaid systems and, more important, the capabilities on schedule," said Randy Kenagy, AOPA director of advanced technology. AOPA has long advocated that precision GPS approaches at every public airport are the required incentive for general aviation owners to upgrade navigation equipment.
While DOT and the FAA are maintaining a strong commitment to satellite-based navigation, DOT acknowledged that an "abrupt transition [to satnav] would be too disruptive...and would place too great a burden on the users."
AOPA participates in discussions that focus on future air traffic control system design and the associated ground and airborne equipment requirements. Issues focus on the implementation of technologies in four main areas: communication, navigation, surveillance, and ground system modernization. Many of these discussions are based on the assumption that all aircraft will have GPS receivers for navigation.
"Without an AOPA presence, plans will be made that do not acknowledge the needs of general aviation," observed Kenagy. AOPA works to ensure that the FAA and its government/industry advisory committees continue to address the needs of general aviation, enabling benefits that increase safety and access over what we have today.