Norwegian Radio Navigation Plan (NRNP) 2003

The Norwegian Radio Navigation Plan (NRNP) 2003 outlines plans for the development and use of radio navigation systems. It has been an objective to keep the overall structure of the NRNP 2003 in line with the radio navigation plans of other countries. (04.01.03)

Norwegian Radio Navigation Plan (NRNP) 2003


The Norwegian Radio Navigation Plan (NRNP) 2003 outlines plans for the development and use of radio navigation systems. It has been an objective to keep the overall structure of the NRNP 2003 in line with the radio navigation plans of other countries. The European Union aims to present a European Radio Navigation Plan in 2003. The Ministry of Fisheries will, as the ministry responsible for radio navigation for civil purposes, follow the development of plans for radio navigation infrastructure and on this basis consider the need to update NRNP.

The purpose of NRNP 2003 is to:

  • Describe the status and plans for radio navigation
  • Clarify the responsibilities of public bodies
  • Identify use of and user requirements in respect of navigation infrastructure
  • Identify arguments for establishing, maintaining and decommissioning systems
  • Identify developmental features that will influence the plans

The principal objectives of the Norwegian navigation policy are to contribute to:

  • National security and development
  • Safe traffic at sea, on land and in the air
  • Efficient transport and other socially beneficial uses of a global and national radio navigation infrastructure
  • Providing added value in Norway in connection with a new navigational infrastructure, and new uses of this.

Premises for Norwegian radio navigation policy

Users of the radio navigation infrastructure operate across national borders. The international development in this field will therefore be an increasingly important factor. Today there are a number of radio navigation systems available to Norwegian users. Owing to its accuracy, availability and global coverage, however, the satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS), managed by the United States, is the most commonly used system worldwide. The planned establishment of a civil European satellite navigation system (Galileo), under the auspices of the EU, will further strengthen the dominant position of satellite-based navigation. It would appear to be obvious that satellite-based navigation systems will increasingly become the primary system for all uses. Other systems will have their justification insofar as they function as a supplement to satellite-based systems.

Global systems and standards make it possible to use receiver equipment over large areas and across national borders. This is a clear advantage for the users. Global, standardised solutions also make volume production, inexpensive user equipment and new cost-efficient applications possible. National radio navigation infrastructure should therefore be designed to be a harmonious part of global and/or regional radio navigation infrastructure based on global standards established by international organisations

Radio navigation is playing an increasingly important role in the modern society. The increase in use of radio navigation is expected to mainly occur within land-based applications (for example car navigation and mobile phones), and not within the traditional navigation applications. Thus, the continued development of radio navigation infrastructure cannot only be based on requirements defined by traditional users; it must also take into account new applications and the requirements of these.

Applications, user requirements and systems

Operative user requirements, system performance, available technology and costs affect the specific applications of radio navigation aids. For this reason, the requirements made in respect of aids to navigation are not static. Instead they change in pace with technical and economical developments, both in respect of the operations that use navigation services and with regard to navigation aids.

The NRNP 2003 gives an overview of current and, insofar as it is possible, future applications and user requirements in respect of radio navigation for aviation, marine and land-based uses.

Satellite-based systems such as GPS have broad areas of application. Most ground-based systems for radio navigation, however, have been established exclusively or primarily for specific purposes and applications.

For most practical purposes, satellite-based navigation is now perceived as being identical with the use of GPS. This is likely to remain the case for the next 8–10 years. GPS has an accuracy of around 10 metres throughout the world and is adequate for a number of different applications. Using regional and local differential support systems, this degree of accuracy can be improved considerably. Depending on the design of the differential system, the degree of accuracy can be improved to mere centimetres.

Civil aviation has experienced growing problems of capacity in respect of traffic control, both in the air and at major airports. The ECAC States, i.e. those countries that participate in the European Civil Aviation Conference, have therefore approved a strategy designed to secure increased capacity and improved safety up until 2015. This strategy anticipates a development, which will shift from existing established air routes to area navigation allowing for freer route selection in all phases of a flight. The Norwegian Air Traffic and Airport Management’s Flight Safety Plan 2003–2011 has been drawn up in line with these international principles.

It is assumed that satellite navigation will play an increasingly central role in aviation navigation, both as regards the flight phase and the landing phase. The strategy also states the need for rationalisation of parts of the terrestrial infrastructure from 2010. Given the importance of aviation in Norway’s transport infrastructure, the trend towards increased use of satellite navigation will be important for Norway.

For Norway as a coastal nation with a long coastline, a huge area of national waters with large-scale economic operations and extensive shipping activity, the marine applications of radio navigation are more important than they are for many other nations. For radio navigation at sea, satellite-based GPS is, due to its accuracy and global coverage, the most commonly used system. Almost all vessels are equipped with GPS and the system is used extensively. Furthermore, differential support systems for GPS are in place in a number of areas that improve the accuracy of the system. As a participant in a cooperation for northwest Europe (Northwest European Loran-C Agreement – NELS), Norway has Loran-C, which is an independent terrestrial radio navigation system.

The establishment of accurate radio navigation systems has also increased the need for reliable and certified charts, and the Hydrographic Survey of Norway plans to cover the whole of the Norwegian coastline by 2006/2007.

The distribution of GPS has reduced the significance of other independent systems such as Loran-C. The distribution of receiver equipment for the Loran-C system is limited. Loran-C’s role must therefore be seen against the background of the driving forces of international developments, and the role that Loran-C may come to play in Europe. Since the Loran-C system is not commonly used, it has been proposed that Norway withdraw from the NELS Agreement when it expires, unless use of the system changes radically before 2004. This opinion is shared by several of the co-signatories of the NELS Agreement. A decision is expected in connection with the forthcoming discussions concerning the Norwegian State Budget for 2004.

The greatest growth in the use of satellite navigation is found in respect of terrestrial applications, where other navigation systems are not commonly used. In a number of applications, positioning information is used to improve the efficiency of systems and processes. Large-volume markets are expected within services based on equipment placed in vehicles and mobile phones, where positioning information will form part of an integrated information service. Satellite navigation is also being used to improve efficiency in areas such as professional transportation, agriculture, building and construction and synchronisation.

Norway’s geography, topography and the size of the country in relation to the number of its inhabitants makes it expensive to maintain and improve the concentration of the geodetic network, which is necessary in order to carry out surveying and geographical registration. With its global coverage, satellite-based navigation therefore represents an important and cost-effective tool, both in respect of establishing this network and for all forms of surveying and geographical registration.

Future developments

The use of satellite navigation is undergoing a period of strong growth, and it is likely that new applications will gradually become increasingly important in vital areas of society. This will simplify operations, and create social benefits and new products. Within the field of satellite navigation, rapid developments are being made, both in order to achieve better performance from the satellite constellation and in order to use existing performance to provide improved and new applications. A giant step forward in terms of GPS performance was made in May 2000 when the United States removed the deliberate downgrading (SA) of accuracy. Accuracy has thus been improved from up to 100 metres to around 10 metres. Europe has established a two-step strategy for asserting its economic, technological and strategic interests within satellite navigation. The first stage is the creation of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System (EGNOS), as a supplement to GPS. The second stage is the establishment of Galileo, an independent satellite navigation system under the auspices of the European Union, which one will attempt to make interoperable with GPS. Galileo will be Europe’s contribution to establishing a reliable Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). EGNOS is being developed through co-operation between the ESA, EU and Eurocontrol, while Galileo is currently in the planning stage. EGNOS and Galileo have created a European focus on satellite navigation that is likely to remain in place, regardless of the course taken by Galileo.

The specifications of Galileo and future generations of GPS are designed to provide considerably improved accuracy compared with the current version of GPS. It is also planned that Galileo will disseminate “integrity information” (information regarding the system’s “state of health”) directly from the satellites. Two independent systems will secure reduced vulnerability and increase availability owing to the greater number of satellites in all. This will pave the way for more rapid development in respect of planned uses of satellite navigation for more safety-critical applications.

Norwegian interests indicate that Norway should have an insight into system development, plans and institutional issues, both in respect of standardisation and with regard to the relationship between the primary and support systems. The development of Galileo will provide a European arena in which Norway should seek to participate in order to secure important interests, both as a user nation and as an industrial nation.

Collaboration on the Galileo project represents an important arena for securing the best possible performance in our areas. Galileo represents one type of common European infrastructure from which Norway may benefit greatly. Continued development of a national infrastructure will take place in the light of the development of satellite navigation, and will take into account the cross-sectoral nature of this. National support systems must continue to be developed in order to bee a basis for new applications. Constant consideration must be given to which parts of the value chain should be a matter of public interest and what should be left to private players.

As with all electronic infrastructures, satellite navigation is vulnerable. This problem will largely be the same in all European countries, but some solutions will have to be implemented nationally.

The security aspect of accurate navigation is dealt with in both NATO and the EU. Consideration should be given to devising a European control regime for Galileo in order to deal with such problems. For Norway, it is important to be involved in this work, and at the same time to acquire enough insight into the decision-making processes so as to be able to evaluate which measures will be common European initiatives and which measures one will need to be prepared to handle nationally.

The cross-sectoral role of satellite navigation will place strict demands on Norway’s ability to coordinate across sectors (sea, land, air) and between different departments. This applies to both the organisation of internal Norwegian work in this field and when a Norwegian body is to represent Norway in EGNOS and the Galileo co-operation. When decisions are to be made in Norway about issues that will be dealt with internationally - organisational, economic, legal, technical or user-related -, consideration must be given to all Norwegian satellite navigation interests.

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