The US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has warned that general aviation safety will be seriously undermined by any further delay in the decision on the continuation of the Loran-C navigation system and any plans to bring forward the shut down of Loran-C transmitters in the USA.

AOPA president Phil Boyer has written to the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) expressing concern about the OMB delaying the Department of Transportation's (DoT) announcement on the continuation of funding for Loran-C.

The association is requesting that the OMB allows the DoT to immediately make an announcement on the continuation of Loran-C until the transition to sole means satellite navigation is completed in 2008. AOPA believes that Loran-C should be upgraded and maintained until satellite navigation proves itself.

Although AOPA supports plans by the US Federal Aviation Administration to move to satellite navigation, it has argued for the retention of Loran-C as a back up. The association's 350,000 members remain "sceptical about placing sole reliance on satellite navigation", says Boyer.

Loran-C, which is used by more than 80,000 general aviation aircraft or 40% of the US GA fleet, was originally due to shut down on 31 December 2000, but its life was extended by the FAA, the US Coast Guard and the DoT last July. At that time no new termination date was set.

AOPA is also expressing concern about any plans by the OMB to advance the shutting down of Loran-C transmitters in the north east of the USA as a cost saving measure.

According to Boyer, "such an action would erode aviation safety in the region, have a profound effect on the accuracy and reliability of the system in other parts of the country and net little, if any, savings."

Source: Flight International