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eLoran service launched in the UK

  • Friday, 18 January 2008 | News

A new enhanced Loran (eLoran) service was officially launched in the UK on January 15th, a move which will "reinforce safety, security and protection of the marine environment around (our) coasts? according to the General Lighthouse Authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland (GLAs).

The system is envisaged as a back up positioning system that would offer a precise radionavigation service in the event of a failure of the satellite based GPS (global positioning system).

This eLoran service is being provided by the GLAs, in conjunction with communications services company VT Communications (VTC), on a trial basis.

eLoran will be available for all maritime users, and meets the 10 metre accuracy requirements for maritime harbour entrance and approach. It also acts as a precise source of time and frequency for marine communications.

Dr Sally Basker, the GLAs Director of research and radionavigation said: "eLoran is an independent, dissimilar complement to GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System). It allows users to retain their GNSS-levels of navigational safety even when their satellite services are disrupted."

"The international maritime community now understands that its future, digital e-Navigation environment needs an internationally agreed alternative system to GNSS. eLoran is the only viable candidate."

The GLAs signed a 15-year contract with VTC in May 2007 to provide the service. VTC has subsequently relocated the existing eLoran transmitter from the UK Midlands to a new building in Cumbria and installed a new antenna.

The first test signals of the system were broadcast on schedule in October 2007.

The launch of the eLoran service marks the culmination of extensive calibration and testing activity during which the Cumbrian station in the UK has been integrated into the European network of eLoran transmitters controlled from Brest, France.

Doug Umbers, VTC's managing director, explains: "We will be working closely with the GLAs to deliver further enhancements as part of the continuing efforts to improve navigation around our coasts."

The combined network of established stations across Europe will now be able to offer eLoran coverage stretching well into the Atlantic ocean, reaching almost as far as Iceland, as a reliable back-up to vessels dependent on GPS systems.

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