Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

FAA: Dumb Rule, Guys

The FAA is proposing scrapping a boatload of VOR and ILS approaches. You can read the rule here. If the link doesn't work, go to regulations.gov and look for rule FAA-2015-0783.

My opinion is that this rule is a bad idea. Placing instrument approaches in the GPS basket without any degree of redundancy is foolish. If there is a navigation system in use that is more vulnerable to interference, sabotage or space weather than GPS, I don't know what it is.

There was a time when aviators had shitloads of redundancy. VOR stations are stand-alone, int hat what booted one station off-line wouldn't screw up another. And for decades, a network of AM navigation beacons provided redundancy.

But GPS? Not so much. Every so often there is a NOTAM out that has a few hundred thousand square miles of area where GPS is unreliable due to some testing by the government of something or other. GPS can be spoofed or completely shut down over an area by any clown with an ability to read a schematic and wield a soldering tool. We haven't had a bad stretch of space weather, yet, but when we do, will we be back to flying airliners in VFR conditions only?

Besides that, if we ever have a hot war with a technologically-capable nation, expect the GPS system to come under almost immediate attack. Our potential adversaries know that our military has a crap-ton of "smart" ordnance that uses GPS for navigation. It doesn't take a Sun-Tzu level military thinker to understand the benefits of disabling an enemy's navigation capabilities.

This all ties into the stupid shit that the government should operate like a business instead of a public-benefit service. Public services aren't fucking businesses. Sure, they ought to be run efficiently and fraud and abuse should be countered. But we've gone too far.

And as for the Federal government being captured by corporations, that's a topic for another day.


Nangleator said...

Weapons, schmeapons. If the GPS constellation goes down, you won't have boots and beans where you need them. Any country with a large population and some pitchforks could face off against us.

CenterPuke88 said...

As usual, they obviously didn't ask controllers about these. Just off the top of my head, the loss of the VOR approach into Mena, AR will cause problems because it is the only approach that's good to fly when the Hog MOA is in use overhead and ceilings are low.

At Sulpher Springs, TX, the loss of the VOR approach will result in delays due to the size of the protected airspace on the RNAV procedures overlapping several adjacent approaches at other fields.

At Perrin Field/North Texas Regional, TX, the removal of the VOR approach is stupid because it's the simplest approach to shoot when approaching from the south or east while avoiding DFW airspace. The RNAV approaches require vectors and coordination the VOR approach doesn't...oh, they they also block approaches into Durant, OK, something the VOR approach doesn't do.

That's just off the top of my head and in three sectors in one Center.

mikey said...

My guess is that the military is planning to do GPS redundancy with High Altitude Long Endurance UAVs. They're pretty close to ready for prime time, and even Google's planning to use them as satellite substitutes. A dozen of them could set up a temporary hardened GPS network - it wouldn't work in highly contested airspace, but the US doesn't fight wars in contested airspace, so that shouldn't be a problem...

Eck! said...

Then there is Glonass, the russian version, and the french are putting up their own and likely the Chinese

In the end you have to kill all of them as each was created in case the other guy turns his off.

Personally I miss Loran-C.


DTWND said...

When I was employed, I argued that advocating only the GPS system for navigation was insane. I was told our "customers" wanted the GPS system because it was more accurate and cost effective. All those pesky ground stations didn't have to have maintenance done on them. "We" had to run the FAA more like a business. I asked about solar flares and electro-magnetic pulses; how would those affect the satellites? I was told I wasn't paid to think; go work traffic.

I also argued that the pilots weren't our customers, they were users of the services the government provide them for safety purposes. Kind of like the police, military, EPA, HUD, etal. I was told to go work traffic. Seems to be a recurring theme when one points out the idiocy of their logic.

I compare retirement from the FAA like banging one's head against a brick wall, it feels good when you stop.