Characteristics of deep GPS signal fading due to ionospheric scintillation for aviation receiver design



[1] Deep and frequent fading of Global Positioning System (GPS) signals caused by ionospheric scintillation is a major concern for aircraft navigation using GPS in the equatorial region during solar maximum. Aviation receivers use both code and carrier measurements to calculate position solutions. Deep signal fading can break a receiver's carrier tracking lock to a satellite channel. The lost channel cannot be used for position calculation until the receiver reacquires the channel and reestablishes tracking. A solar maximum data set analyzed in this paper demonstrates frequent deep signal fading of almost all satellites in view. This could significantly reduce the number of simultaneous tracked satellites and consequently decrease navigation availability. Forty-five minutes of strong scintillation, which was the worst scintillation period of a 9 day campaign at Ascension Island in 2001, are analyzed in this paper. The importance of short reacquisition time of the receiver is described. In order to design an aviation receiver with short reacquisition time under frequent deep signal fading, the characteristics of signal fading should be well understood. Fading duration and the time between deep fades are two important characteristics for GPS navigation. This paper presents a fading duration model based on real scintillation data. The time between deep fades observed in this data shows very frequent deep fades which can significantly reduce benefit of carrier smoothing filters of aviation receivers.