The FAA recently provided an update on its plans to decommission about 30 percent (308) of the existing network of 957 VORs by 2025. The presentation, made at the April 2016 meeting of the Aeronautical Charting Forum, is available here (PDF).
As I’ve noted in previous posts on this topic (e.g., here), the basic plan remains as follows:
- Decommission about 308 VORs in two phases. Phase 1 runs from FY2016-FY2020. Phase 2 runs from FY2021-FY2025.
- About 649 VORs will remain in service. In fact, many of those VORs will be upgraded to expand their service volumes.
- Most of the VORs to be shut down will be in the Central (162) and Eastern (131) U.S. Only about 15 VORs will be decommissioned in the West.
The list of the first VORs to be shut down is available from AOPA here (PDF). AOPA also has good background about the program to decommission VORs on its website.
To provide backups should GPS signals fail or be disrupted, the FAA will retain a minimum operational network (MON) of VORs and MON airports that have ILS and/or VOR approaches.
Those MON airports and VORs are designed to enable pilots to:
- Revert from PBN [i.e., GPS-based] to conventional navigation in the event of a Global Positioning System (GPS) outage;
- Tune and identify a VOR at a minimum altitude of 5,000 feet above ground level or higher;
- Navigate to a MON airport within 100 nautical miles to fly an Instrument Landing System (ILS) or VOR instrument approach without Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), Automatic Direction Finder (ADF), surveillance, or GPS where the capability currently exists; and
- Navigate along VOR Airways especially in mountainous terrain where surveillance services are not available and Minimum En Route Altitudes (MEAs) offer lower altitude selection for options in icing conditions.
You can learn more about MON airports in this presentation (PDF) from the ACF meeting.