Warning to Europe on eLoran
On 7 April, the Resilient PNT Forum meeting in Bordeaux heard a dire warning on the future of eLoran in Europe.
Prof David Last FRIN, past President of the Institute, was addressing the Resilient Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Forum, which was in session on the eve of this year's European Navigation Conference (ENC) in France.
After stressing the vulnerability of GNSS - even with clever crypto protection - due to exceedingly low received signal strengths, he showed that eLoran can provide an acceptable back-up for horizontal positioning and timing. GNSS timing has become crucial for the likes of mobile communications, power distribution, financial services and the internet.
Much of western Europe is covered by eLoran and this may become contiguous throughout Europe with the adaption of the Russian Chayka system. South Korea is expanding its eLoran coverage to counter GPS jamming from the North, and the US seems at last to have heeded the advice of its PNT Advisory Board and is moving towards the adoption of nationwide eLoran.
So all seems rosy in much of the developed world when it comes to protection against catastrophic solar activity denying the use of GNSS . . but not so - France and Norway intend to close down all their eLoran transmitters at the end of 2015 and destroy the associated infrastructure. This will completely remove western Europe from eLoran cover.
In frustration, Prof Last asked what can be done to prevent this intended shutdown (with an annual saving equating to the pay of just one Premier League footballer . .). After much discussion, it was agreed that the European Union Group of Institutes of Navigation (EUGIN - sponsors of the ENC) would approach the EU with a view to supporting eLoran in Europe for the future.
Prof Last's paper - available as a download below - includes two points that could lead to a solution:
- formal proposals have been submitted to the French and Norwegian governments to take over and run their former Loran-C infrastructure commercially.
- the concept of 'Galileo Earth' could become reality. This would involve the precise synchronisation of time promulgated by both Galileo and eLoran. This precise Galileo time would be available through both or either of the systems, providing a robust time source as well as assistance to navigation receivers in challenging environments such as indoors.
We will follow EUGIN's progress this year with great interest . .
Prof Last's paper may be downloaded below.