Precise, Accurate Aircraft Navigation Without GPS

Before satellite-based global positioning systems, aircraft navigation required skill, the stars or expensive inertial navigation systems. New systems combine several methods, at a low cost.

Episode Summary:

Navigation aircraft used to be a simple business. Early pilots often used roadmaps and flew low enough to read the names of towns from water towers and grain silos. Longer-range aircraft brought with them the need for a dedicated navigator, who used the sun and stars just as shipboard navigators did for centuries.  

The development of satellite-based global positioning systems, however, automated the process and effectively removed the navigator from the cockpit of modern commercial aircraft. Unfortunately, GPS is vulnerable to system attack and jamming, especially since GPS signals are used for military purposes—their original purpose.  

Can robust, low cost and accurate aircraft navigation systems be built without reliance on GPS? Honeywell has tested a prototype system that promises to do just that. 

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Written by

James Anderton

Jim Anderton is the Director of Content for Mr. Anderton was formerly editor of Canadian Metalworking Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of print and on-line publications, including Design Engineering, Canadian Plastics, Service Station and Garage Management, Autovision, and the National Post. He also brings prior industry experience in quality and part design for a Tier One automotive supplier.