More on FAA Plans to Decommission VORs
December 19, 2011 1 Comment
Here’s a link to the latest proposal from FAA to change from a ground-based navigation network to a GPS-based system of airways and approaches. The long title of the document: Proposed Provision of Navigation Services for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) Transition to Performance-Based Navigation (PBN).
You can read all of the details and learn how to submit comments (due March 7, 2012) at the preceding link.
Update: FAA has released a three-page summary that provides more details about which VORs would be decommissioned. Details and links available from AOPA here.
Here are some highlights from the proposal:
The FAA plans to transition from defining airways, routes and procedures using VHF Omni-directional Range (VOR) and other legacy navigation aids (NAVAIDs) towards a NAS based on Area Navigation (RNAV) everywhere and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) where beneficial. Such capabilities will be enabled largely by the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). The FAA plans to retain an optimized network of Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) stations and a minimum operational network (MON) of VOR stations to ensure safety and continuous operations for high and low altitude en route airspace over the conterminous US (CONUS) and terminal operations at the Core 30 airports.
Currently, over 80% of the 967 VORs in the NAS inventory are past their economic service life and cost the FAA more than $110M per year to operate. Likewise, replacement parts are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. The replacement of all of the VORs would cost over $1.0B. Therefore, the FAA is planning a gradual discontinuance (removal from service) of VOR facilities in CONUS to a minimum operational network (MON). The MON would enable aircraft anywhere in the CONUS to proceed safely to a destination with a GPS-independent approach within 100 nm. MON coverage is planned to be provided at altitudes above 5,000 feet above ground level (AGL). The FAA would also retain VORs to support international arrival airways from the Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean, and at the Core 30 airports. The existing U.S. legacy navigation aids outside CONUS will be retained until a longer-term solution can be coordinated with users. The drawdown of VORs to a MON would be completed no later than January 1, 2020.