Lockheed Martin has formed a new company, Synchronetics, to provide regional augmentation of the global positioning system (GPS). It plans to operate ground- and space-based augmentation systems that allow GPS to be used for air navigation.

Initially, Synchronetics is targeting South America, says Dan Brophy, director of navigation services at Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management. The company, which is intended to include other US and regional partners, plans to begin by installing and leasing local-area augmentation systems at major South American airports, starting next year.

These units would also serve as ground reference stations for a regional wide-area augmentation system (WAAS), Brophy says. By 2003, Synchronetics plans to have installed additional wide-area reference stations throughout South America to complete its network. GPS augmentation data will then be broadcast via a fleet of company-owned satellites.

The venture, including satellites, is projected to cost $1 billion, Brophy says. Of that, 10-15% will be required initially for the ground segment, funded by partners.

To spread the cost, Brophy says, Synchronetics plans to offer the US Federal Aviation Administration leased access to the same satellites to broadcast signals from the North American WAAS. The FAA has a requirement for six to eight satellites for the WAAS.

Synchronetics is intended to be the financial vehicle for leasing local-area and wide-area augmentation systems to South American nations, he says.

Source: Flight International