NATA Urges LORAN Upgrade

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It may not be as flashy or capable as GPS but Long Range Aids to Navigation (LORAN) is almost bulletproof when the going gets tough, and that’s why the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is urging the federal government to improve it. The feds have asked for opinions on what to do with LORAN, a ground-based system that uses the time difference of low-frequency radio signals between the receiver and ground stations to plot the position of the receiver. Although GPS is now the favored navigational aid for everyone from pilots to hikers, NATA says it’s also vulnerable to disruption from weather and terrorists, while the long waves of RF from LORAN are hard to jam. “LORAN provides a critical back-up should GPS malfunction or become unavailable,” NATA says in its comments to the Department of Transportation. The current version is known as LORAN C. NATA wants the feds to upgrade the system to eLORAN (the “e” is for enhanced) which provides more powerful signals and updated technology. NATA also notes that LORAN receivers are relatively inexpensive. “The result is a dependable navigation system available at a low cost to the user,” NATA says in its comments. If the upgrade isn’t considered feasible, NATA says the existing system should be maintained.