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Passenger Aircraft to Receive Upgrades

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 2, 1996 – DoD passenger aircraft will receive important safety upgrades, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Paul Kaminski announced in the Pentagon recently.

Following the April 3 crash of an Air Force T-43A passenger jet that killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 34 others, Defense Secretary William J. Perry directed the services to look at upgrading all passenger military aircraft. Kaminski said Perry has put the highest priority on installation of Global Positioning System devices on all passenger military aicraft.

The next priority, he said, is placing flight data recorders -- the so-called black boxes -- on commercially derived fixed-wing aircraft. Finally, DoD will place flight data recorders on other aircraft including troop carriers and helicopters.

Kaminski said the installation of precision light Global Positioning System receivers is an interim solution. More than 1,200 Air Force and 850 Navy aircraft will be fitted at a cost of about $7 million, he said.

"The Army had in place already a well-grounded, fully integrated Global Positioning System program," Kaminski said. "The plan was to have GPS fully integrated in all fixed-wing aircraft in fiscal 1999 -- that's about 270 aircraft -- and GPS in some form in all Army aircraft by fiscal 2000."

Kaminski said in addition to the receivers, DoD will provide way point and bearing indicators and, in some aircraft, a moving map display on a laptop computer.He stressed the solution is interim. The services have long-term solutions that fully integrate the Global Positioning System.

Kaminski put the price tag for the safety improvements at $335 million through fiscal 1999.

The Global Positioning System will allow aircraft crews to pinpoint their location within 50 feet in three dimensions. The interim devices will give crews the best capability as soon as possible.

"The costs associated with this interim capability are modest," Kaminski said. When the fully integrated global positioning systems come on line, the interim systems can be used in other areas.

"Our sense was this wasn't a big cost to pay, and we wanted to do everything we could to provide the very best situational awareness and en-route navigation," he said.

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