AOPA is urging the FAA to support the continued operation of loran until a permanent backup system for GPS is established. The association called the U.S. Coast Guard plan to decommission the loran system "premature."
"Once gone, loran will no longer be a backup option, and any other suitable aviation alternative would likely be more costly, take longer to implement, and would be the responsibility of the FAA exclusively," AOPA President Phil Boyer told FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. "Let's look before we leap on this issue."
Loran was the first technology to give general aviation pilots a high-performance area navigation system. Originally developed for military and marine navigation, loran uses a chain of low-frequency, ground-based radio transmitters maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Most GA pilots retired their loran units with the advent of low-cost navigators using the satellite-based GPS signal. Pilots continued to use the VOR system for backup navigation.
But the FAA will ultimately decommission most VOR stations, leaving no backup navigation system for GA should there be a major disruption to the GPS system.
AOPA asked the FAA to direct the industry advisory council, RTCA, to "evaluate and validate loran's performance and viability as a backup navigation signal that supports RNP 0.3 performance and ADS-B requirements," and to propose a loran oversight council including the responsible federal agencies and aviation navigation users.
May 3, 2006