- John Frazier
In our courses and conversations, we’ve been observing that LORAN is gone, NDBs are headed out the door, and VORs are next. A presentation at the most recent Aeronautical Charting Forum described the VOR shutdown program in more detail.
The name of the formal plan to reduce the number of operational VORs in the U.S. is the Minimum Operational Network Implementation Program, or MON for short. With around 970 VORs currently owned and operated by the FAA, MON will reduce that number by around half between 2016 and 2020. That year 2020 should ring a bell, as it is also the year that ADS-B becomes mandatory. All of this is part of the transition that is taking place as we move away from ground-based radar to a PBN-based National Airspace System, the dominant component of NextGen.
MON plans to shut down just over 100 VORs a year on average until the program is completed. The criteria for selecting which ones will go is being worked now, with the expectation that there will be a lot of input from interested parties. A major goal of the program is to ensure that there will be no overall loss of navigation safety or service capacity within the system. In support of that, standalone DME will remain in place for the foreseeable future, mainly as a back up to GPS.
We can also expect to see a continuing increase in the number of T and Q Routes. That will happen most noticeably in the Low Altitude System first, as T Routes will be named to overlie existing Victor Airways. Then, as the VORs get shut down, the V Route name will go away, leaving just the T Route. The first 100 of these have already been identified.
The FAA says that the numerous VORs that are currently shut down are not a part of the MON, but are just old, tired, and expensive to maintain in an era of tight budgets.