Loran’s Lament

 - January 26, 2010, 3:42 AM

Nobody needs reminding how much debt the U.S. has amassed recently, but shutting down the loran system and hanging the future of ATC solely on satnav goes against the basic aeronautical tenets of backup, alternative load paths, redundancy and failsafe structure. Killing loran, we are told, will save our government about $35 million, no more than a decent bonus for one Wall Streeter. If, as loran proponents suggest, GPS is vulnerable to jamming, satnav should not be the sole structure for aerial navigation and the safe return of airplanes to runways in filthy weather. Europe continues to see eLoran as a necessary and viable backup. The sums of money necessary to preserve the U.S. loran system are chump change in the context of NextGen expenditures, and the U.S. tomorrow could well regret succumbing to misdirected penny wisdom today.