Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NextGen Nonsense



I’ve got this bad habit of listening to the news while I’m napping. That’s the only excuse I have for the news that President Obama’s budget includes cutting a “long-range navigation system” slipping by me. It took me a day or two to figure out they were talking about LORAN -- Long-Range Aid to Navigation.

Among the programs on the president's chopping block::

• A long-range navigation system now made obsolete by the GPS. Cost: $35 million. “


Now, you tell me, did anyone (besides me) mention that LORAN was supposed to be the backup system for GPS ?

”The JPDO-sponsored NGATS Institute SatNav Backup Study and JPDO involvement in the National Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Architecture both indicate that positioning/navigation accuracy and robustness requirements will require a “complementary” PNT system (or systems) based on phenomenology that is dissimilar to Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) – candidates include eLORAN and advanced Inertial Reference Units. “

Well, actually it was the DOD (you know, the folks in charge of GPS) via the JPDO that was warning everyone. I just happened to include it in my blog. Remember ?

(Using my best Billy Mays’ voice) But wait ! There’s more !

This is from James Fallows at The Atlantic yesterday. (Thanks for the tip, Joe.)

”And so it is with heavy heart that we learn about a new Government Accountability Office study (here in PDF), via Michael Cooney's story in NetworkWorld, saying that the U.S. Air Force, which runs the GPS satellites, has not managed to get new "IIF"-model satellites ready in time to replace the ones that are wearing out. “

”But the nightmare scenario no one thought to worry about was that the US-run system would start to crumble and wear out. Arrrgghh! “

So, we’re going to eliminate the system that GPS made obsolete, just in time for the GPS system to become unreliable. I assume the thought that the left hand of the government doesn’t know what the right is doing pops into your mind also. But how about this thought ?

Since the Obama Administration took office, numerous Bush Administration policies have been reversed. From torture to the environment to regulation and even labor relations with air traffic controllers, the previous Administration’s policies have been repudiated. But, as far as I can tell, NextGen hasn’t even hit a speed bump.

If anything, the drums beating for NextGen seem to be getting louder. (Hopefully, my readers can refute most of the details in that article without any further help from me.) If you’re wondering why that might be -- why the clamor for a flawed idea is so loud -- Paul Cox over at The FAA Follies has a few thoughts on the subject.

Getting the Flick yet ?

Don Brown
May 12, 2009

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