Sunday, March 18, 2012

GPS Favored Over Navigational Beacon in Nome


I know this isn’t directly related to GPS, but thought I would pass along the word anyway…

According to a brief posted by, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is conducting a series of studies on the non-directional navigational beacon (NDB) in Nome, Alaska, and is looking for public comment on possibly disabling the beacon.

Dubbed the ‘Gold’ beacon, this navigational aid was created in the 1950s and was common and rather popular through the early 2000s. Providing additional navigational aids, this beacon uses radio waves and was used extensively in the late 20th century before GPS became widely available, as it could travel farther and was fairly simple to operate. It was not without shortcomings, however.

Recently, the FAA has announced it might be decommissioning the NDB in Alaska in favor of the more accurate and easily used GPS signals. According to the FAA, the technology is outdated and the decommissioning of the beacons will have little to no impact on airport operations, as there are already several other navigational tools in place.

The FAA is seeking public comment on this issue, and you can send a letter to the FAA by December 31 through their website. I doubt this is going to have any impact on most of you, but is definitely worthy of comment if you live or fly anywhere in that area.

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