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NovAtel Inc. selected to develop a GPS Differential System for ION and NAA

NovAtel Inc. a precise positioning technology company, announced that it has been selected by The Institute of Navigation (ION) and the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) to develop a GPS differential system for use by the NAA in establishing straight course speed records for aircraft in flight. The system is expected to be complete by May 2004. One of the primary functions of the NAA is to encourage, coordinate, document and promote competition and record-making aviation and space events in accordance with the rules prescribed by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), of which NAA is the official US representative. The FAI Sporting Code requires a 0.25% overall system accuracy in the measurement of record speed over a three-kilometer course. As speeds increase and the time to traverse the three-kilometer course decreases, it becomes impossible to assure the required 0.25% system accuracy using hand-timing techniques. Overall, as aircraft performance improves, the measurement of these types of records becomes equipment and manpower intensive. A GPS system could significantly reduce the equipment costs and manpower currently required for these records. The ION Satellite Division approved the funding of the GPS Flight Recorder development because there is a clear need to advance the state of the art in this area. Both the ION and NAA were extremely pleased with NovAtel’s proposal, which provides the GPS equipment and technology base for this development effort, and creates an educational opportunity for a University of Calgary Co-op student.

The ION is a non-profit professional society dedicated to the advancement of the art and science of navigation. It serves a diverse community including those interested in air, space, marine and land navigation and position determination. The Satellite Division of the ION, which is supporting this effort, encourages the development, operation and use of navigation and position determination systems incorporating satellite-based elements.
The Chairman of the NAA Contest and Records (C&R) Board, Stan Nelson, added, “The technology that the NAA C&R Board has been using for flight test speed measurements over the past several decades has not kept pace with advancements in aeronautic designs and materials. We are moving away from the use of high speed photographic and optical timing systems with millisecond timing at best, to the use of space-based satellite systems and carrier phase processing, like the system NovAtel is developing, which should provide microsecond course time measurement precision.