Should NAVSTAR Be Used for Civil Navigation? FAA Should Improve Its Efforts To Decide

Gao ID: LCD-79-104 April 30, 1979

NAVSTAR is a global satellite-based navigation system which the Department of Defense (DOD) plans to implement in the mid-1980's. The system is being designed to provide highly accurate position information anywhere in the world. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is pursuing a program to determine whether NAVSTAR could become the primary civil air navigation system.

Area navigation could save the civil aviation community some $780 million annually by 1984. Until mid-1978 it was widely assumed that DOD would always permit free access by the civil community to NAVSTAR benefits. FAA must make it clear to DOD what accuracies would be needed, not simply for enroute navigation, but for the whole range of flight conditions. NAVSTAR receiver costs will be a critical factor in whether a high percentage of the 180,000 general aviation aircraft owners accept NAVSTAR. FAA needs to place a high priority on updating a cost study of alternative navigation systems. The initial study by FAA appears to overstate the cost of NAVSTAR to its users because FAA did not consider the large number of potential marine and land users if NAVSTAR is made available to the civil community.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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