FAA Plans VOR Reductions

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As part of its strategy to upgrade the National Airspace System, the FAA last week proposed to reduce the number of VOR facilities to a "minimal operational network" by 2020. The agency said the minimum network would enable aircraft anywhere in the continental U.S. to proceed safely to a destination with a GPS-independent approach within 100 nm. The FAA will convene a working group to consider which VORs will be shut down. "Each facility will be evaluated on its own merits," the FAA said. The group will use "relevant operational, safety, cost, and economic criteria," along with input from industry stakeholders and the public, to reach its conclusions.

This proposed transition of the NAS navigation infrastructure aims to enable performance-based navigation as part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, which will be based on GPS and WAAS, the FAA said. The FAA plans to transition from defining airways, routes and procedures using VORs and other "legacy" navigation aids to using "Area Navigation (RNAV) everywhere and Required Navigation Performance where beneficial." The FAA said it plans to retain an "optimized network" of DME stations along with the minimum operational network of VOR stations "to ensure safety and continuous operations for high and low altitude en route airspace over the conterminous US and terminal operations at the Core 30 airports." The FAA is accepting comments on its proposed policy until March 7.