Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance are three essential services for safe and efficient air transportation. The primary means of providing these services are dependent on GPS, which is vulnerable to well-known natural and intentional interference.
- The FAA has awarded recent contracts to replace their much newer backup surveillance infrastructure because of the same concerns with GPS vulnerability.
- The FAA is spending millions to alternative timing for their communications infrastructure because of the same concerns with GPS vulnerability.
- How can the FAA justify the upgrade of two of three essential service of the nation’s air transportation infrastructure, and not address the more serious issue with the third essential service – which is suspect to the same serious vulnerabilities?
- The FAA’s mission to serve all NAS users and the pilots relying on the NAS clearly understand the importance of reliable and resilient navigation.
Ground-Based Navigation Aids, known as NAVAIDs, are critical to the U.S. transportation infrastructure, and the flying public and military depends on the safety and reliability of this infrastructure. The FAA’s NAVAIDs are some of the oldest in the world.
Ground-based navigation is a backup to satellite-based navigation (GPS). With GPS reliability and vulnerability becoming more of an issue, the resilience of the nation’s ground-based NAVAID infrastructure is even more important:
The International Civil Aviation Organization sent a letter in August 2020 to all their member states globally, noting the criticality of strengthening their ground-based navigation infrastructure to mitigate GPS interference. Specifically, States need to take action for “retaining essential conventional navigation infrastructure for contingency support in case of GNSS outages”.
These elements of navigation, along with communications and surveillance, are three essential services for safe and efficient air transportation. The primary means of providing these services are dependent on GPS, which is vulnerable to well-known natural and intentional interference. DVT systems are the only ones without a modern, reliable backup in the event of GPS outage.