GPS - User Segment

The user segment includes the equipment of the military personnel and civilians who receive GPS signals. Military GPS user equipment has been integrated into fighters, bombers, tankers, helicopters, ships, submarines, tanks, jeeps, and soldiers' equipment. In addition to basic navigation activities, military applications of GPS include target designation, close air support, "smart" weapons, and rendezvous.

With the surge in popularity of GPS receivers over the past several years, the civilian community has its own large and diverse user segment. Surveyors use GPS to save time over standard survey methods. GPS is used by aircraft and ships for enroute navigation and for airport or harbor approaches. GPS tracking systems are used to route and monitor delivery vans and emergency vehicles. In a method called precision farming, GPS is used to accurately guide farm machinery engaged in plowing, planting, fertilizing, and harvesting. GPS is available as an in-car navigation aid and is used by hikers and hunters. Most smartphones feature GPS map or navigation applications. Because the GPS user does not need to communicate with the satellite, GPS can serve an unlimited number of users.

The aviation community is using GPS extensively. Aviation navigators, equipped with GPS receivers, use satellites as precise reference points to trilaterate the aircraft's position anywhere on or near the earth. GPS is already providing benefits to aviation users, but relative to its potential, these benefits are just the beginning. The foreseen contributions of GPS to aviation promise to be revolutionary. With air travel nearly doubled in the 21st Century, GPS can provide a cornerstone of the future air traffic management (ATM) system that will maintain high levels of safety, while reducing delays and increasing airway capacity. To promote this future ATM system, the FAA's objective is to establish and maintain a satellite-based navigation capability for all phases of flight.