Brent Luna is the NATCA National Article 114 Navigation Representative
Background: The Navigation Representative works closely with Agency Program Managers for the Very High Frequency Omni-directional Range (VOR) Minimum Operational Network (MON) Implementation Program, Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) / Very High Frequency Omni-directional Range (VOR) / Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) Infrastructure (DVT) Program, NextGen DME Program, and the Instrument Landing System (ILS) Rationalization Program which are addressing rationalization, resiliency, and sustainment of the VORs, DMEs, and ILSs. The VOR MON Program is reducing the number of VORs in the CONUS, while NextGen DME, DVT, and ILS Rationalization Programs are investing in more equipment and upgrades to ensure these key NAS components remain in critical locations and in good repair for the next 20+ years.
Work on flight procedures brought on by VORMON continues as air traffic facilities return to basic watch schedules and traffic picks up. NATCA PBN Co-Leads are aware of facility pressures as all programs try to re-engage and will continue to be as dynamic and understanding in their planning and execution as is needed by Air Traffic. Runway Visual Range (RVR) has provided background information for continued maintenance of the New Generation (NG) (Teledyne) RVR Systems and upgrades to the Personal Computer (PC) based RVR systems (Vaisala). The RVR program will not make changes to existing controller displays in air traffic operations areas. All surplus NG systems and NG parts are reserved for repairs and sustainment of existing NG RVR installations. The PC based RVR systems are no longer being manufactured so the systems and parts on hand will be used to upgrade the rack equipment in Tech-Ops operational areas and upgrade sensors and other technology on the airfield. NATCA has been briefed that NG controller displays are compatible with the new rack equipment and field sensors. All systems that pull RVR information for display in other air traffic tools, such as ACE-IDS, will still interface with the new back. All upgrades and repairs to any RVR system should be invisible to air traffic and not alter the current tools that controllers and other air traffic functions rely on. If you hear of a different approach or have any RVR concerns, please contact me so we can work with the Agency to understand and correct.
AJM-32 is also involved with other Department of Transportation offices in the Research & Development of Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Resilience. The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), along with the PNT Research and Development Interagency Working Group, the Subcommittee on Resilience Science and Technology, and the Committee on Homeland and National Security released the January 2021 National Research and Development Plan for Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Resilience as a requirement of Executive Order 13905 (previous Trump administration). I have been in contact with Dan Hamilton, NATCA Surveillance and Broadcast Services (SBS) Article 114 Representative and will continue to coordinate any items impacting navigation and/or surveillance.
The DME/VOR/TACAN (DVT) Program continues to develop updated DME, TACAN Antenna and TACAN Transponder Specifications.
Next Major program goals are:
1) Award the contract to procure the TACAN Antennas (target due date is now 9/30/2021) .
2) Complete updates to the DME, TACAN Antenna, and TACAN Transponder Specifications (target due date 9/30/2021). DVT has submitted the DVT Sustainment Operational Safety Assessment to AJI-3 for signature and completed the Functional Fault Hazard Analysis (FFHA) for TACAN antennas. The DVT Sustainment Final Investment Decision (FID) has been rescheduled to Q4FY22 (9/22).
NextGen DME support resources in the Service Areas, Flight Inspection, and Engineering Services are all impacted by virus related concerns and mitigations. The Segment 1 goal to have 12 new DME sites has been pushed and will not be met due to limitations of implementation resources during COVID.
ILS Program FY21 goal includes the completion of one (1) ILS Project by 9/30/21. The three candidate projects are Knoxville, TN (TYS), Milwaukee, WI (GMF), and San Antonio, TX (SAT).
VOR MON is now targeting 218 VORs for discontinuance in Phase II (FY21-FY30), 15 Phase II VORs have been completed thus far in FY21.
VORs being discontinued on the 6/17/2021 chart cycle are:
Henderson VORTAC in Henderson, WV (HNN), Lebanon VOR/DME in Lebanon, NH (LEB), Lawrence VOR/DME in Lawrence, MA (LWM), Massena VORTAC in Massena, NY (MSS), Marion VOR/DME in Marion, IL (MWA), and Saranac Lake VOR/DME in Saranac Lake, NY (SLK).
VORs being discontinued on the 8/12/2021 chart date are:
Decatur VOR/DME in Decatur, AL (DCU), Galesburg VOR/DME in Galesburg, IL (GBG), Maples VORTAC in Maples, MO (MAP), Santa Rosa VOR/DME in Santa Rosa, CA (STS), Utica VORTAC in Utica, NY (UCA), and Cecil VOR in Jacksonville, FL (VQQ).
VORs being discontinued on the 10/07/2021 chart date are:
Keene VORTAC in Keene, NH (EEN), Houlton VOR/DME in Houlton, ME (HUL), Macon VOR/DME in Macon, MO (MCM), and Pease VOR/DME in Portsmouth, NH (PSM).
For most VORMON discontinuance work, ATC field facilities should be discussing what losses will occur and what mitigations will be required at least two years in advance of each VOR discontinuance date. It takes considerable time to gather intel on how ATC Operations and NAS User needs will be impacted. The new or amended procedures and route work should be designed and agreed upon approximately one year prior to the actual discontinuance date. This concept/method helps ensure that the 12 months prior to the discontinuance can then be utilized by the different charting and development offices, environmental reviews and/or analysis, community engagement/involvement execution, quality control checks, successful flight inspections, and any postings to the Federal Register for notification and/or public comment, as required. I can help any Air Traffic facility get in contact with and get the support they need to make these plans and decisions come to fruition. My email is email@example.com if I can be of any assistance to any facility.
Looking two years down the road for VOR MON, the following VORs should be current topics of discussion at the local ATC facility level…unless they have already been effectively dealt with:
6/15/2023 discontinuances include: Cypress VOR/DME in Naples, FL (CYY), Indian Head VORTAC in Seven Springs, PA (IHD), LaBelle VORTAC in LaBelle, FL (LBV), Wolbach VORTAC in Wolbach, NE (OBH), Pahokee VOR/DME in Pahokee, FL (PHK), Treasure VORTAC in Vero Beach, FL (TRV), and Quincy VORTAC in Quincy, IL (UIN). 8/10/2023 discontinuances include: Devils Lake VOR/DME in Devils Lake, ND (DVL), and Paris VOR/DME in Paris, TX (PRX).
10/05/2023 discontinuances include: Greene County VORTAC in Leakesville, MS (GCV) and Natchez VOR/DME in Natchez, MS (HEZ). If any of these navaids are utilized by procedures in your airspace, please reach out if you need help or you know that your facility has not been contacted by the Operational Support Groups in the Service Centers.