New federal plan focuses on GPS for navigation

A new federal radionavigation plan focuses on global positioning systems (GPS) as a primary means of navigation, according to information from the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Defense (DOD).

“GPS offers us the capability to improve our quality of life through application across almost every mode of transportation,” says DOT Secretary Norman Mineta. “However, the transition to GPS from current systems, and the determination of what part of the current radionavigation infrastructure to retain, is a complex matter involving government, industry, and users. We are seeking a sensible transition to satellite-based navigation services as our primary means of navigation, while recognizing the need to maintain backup navigation aids where required.”

The plan includes revised schedules for phasing down most land-based radionavigation systems to allow more time to transition to GPS. DOT will continue the 1999 policy to operate Loran-C in the short term while the administration continues to evaluate the long-term need for the system. DOT soon will be completing studies on Loran-C that will help make a decision on the system in 2002, according to DOT information.

Beginning with this edition of the plan, federal radionavigation information previously contained in a single document will be published in two separate documents, the Federal Radionavigation Plan (FRP) and a companion document entitled Federal Radionavigation Systems (FRS). The FRP includes the introduction, policies, operating plans, system selection considerations, and research and development sections. It will allow more efficient and responsive updates of policy and planning information.

Sections relating to government roles and responsibilities, user requirements, and systems descriptions have been moved to the companion FRS and will be updated as necessary.

The FRP, a joint product of DOT and DOD, is mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1998, which also requires that the plan be revised and updated at least every two years.

Free copies of the 2001 FRP/FRS are available on CD ROM from the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Kendall Square, Cambridge MA 02142. For more information telephone 617-494-2908. The 2001 FRP is also on the Internet World Wide Web at www. navcen.uscg.gov/pubs/frp2001.

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