Should NAVSTAR Be Used for Civil Navigation? FAA Should Improve Its Efforts To Decide

LCD-79-104: Published: Apr 30, 1979. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 1979.

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NAVSTAR is a global satellite-based navigation system which the Department of Defense (DOD) plans to implement in the mid-1980's. The system is being designed to provide highly accurate position information anywhere in the world. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is pursuing a program to determine whether NAVSTAR could become the primary civil air navigation system.

Area navigation could save the civil aviation community some $780 million annually by 1984. Until mid-1978 it was widely assumed that DOD would always permit free access by the civil community to NAVSTAR benefits. FAA must make it clear to DOD what accuracies would be needed, not simply for enroute navigation, but for the whole range of flight conditions. NAVSTAR receiver costs will be a critical factor in whether a high percentage of the 180,000 general aviation aircraft owners accept NAVSTAR. FAA needs to place a high priority on updating a cost study of alternative navigation systems. The initial study by FAA appears to overstate the cost of NAVSTAR to its users because FAA did not consider the large number of potential marine and land users if NAVSTAR is made available to the civil community.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to: (1) intensify and redirect certain efforts on the NAVSTAR program; (2) work more closely with DOD in defining unequivocal civil aviation requirements for enroute navigation, area navigation, and separate assurance; (3) redirect some of its technical efforts; and (4) continue to reevaluate the cost of NAVSTAR, as compared to current systems, in light of the potential benefits. Whether the question of the dilution of the accuracy of the NAVSTAR C/A signal is adjudicated by DOD or a higher authority, the Secretary should ensure that careful consideration is given to the many benefits which NAVSTAR could provide to the civil community.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation


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