Dr. Christopher J. Hegarty, Director for CNS Engineering & Spectrum at The MITRE Corporation and Dr. George Ligler, Consultant
The work of Special Committee 159, Navigation Equipment Using the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), led by Co-Chairs Chris Hegarty and George Ligler, has enabled major improvements to the safety of the US airspace. Among their many accomplishments, Chris and George are members of the Program Management Committee (PMC), which provides oversight to the work of all RTCA Special Committees.
Chris started volunteering for RTCA in 1992 with SC-159. At the time, he was encouraged by his employer, The MITRE Corporation, to participate in the work of RTCA’s Special Committees and eventually worked his way into leadership positions. He noted that of his work with SC-159, developing the specification for a new GPS signal was among his favorite and most impactful effort with RTCA. “The one [tasking] I had the most fun with was when the Department of Transportation asked RTCA to develop the specification for the third civilian signal that’s broadcast by the GPS satellites,” Chris said. “Twelve of the thirty-one GPS satellites are now broadcasting this new signal to civilians, and that was something that RTCA actually helped design.”
That sense of satisfaction and camaraderie was reflected in George’s comments about RTCA’s Special Committees as well. “The impact of SC-159 has been huge in terms of equipage in our fleet,” he said. “So when you look back and realize you’re part of it, you can take tremendous satisfaction from knowing what the impact of everyone’s work is.”
And the story isn’t over yet. Chris explained that their work continues, on a number of fronts. “Integration of drones into civilian airspace is one of the most challenging things that RTCA is working on now,” he said. “There’s a Committee working on this and it’s one of the hardest jobs of any of our committees. I’m excited about our next generation of GPS standards as well. We’re hoping to go from what you see on commercial aircraft today to ones in the future that will ideally track navigation satellites from any country.”
Despite their individual contributions to RTCA, both Chris and George gave the most praise to their colleagues on the PMC and in Special Committees 159, 186 and 228. “The two things that excite me the most about RTCA are the people and their impact,” George said. “We establish a great camaraderie within the Special Committees and it’s a really wonderful experience to work with such good people and to learn from them. It’s extremely gratifying.”
“Leaders like Chris and George are the reason the FAA and industry continue to rely on RTCA to solve some of aviation’s toughest challenges,” said RTCA President Margaret Jenny. “We are fortunate to have them leading our committees.”
Dr. Christopher J. Hegarty is the Director for CNS Engineering & Spectrum at The MITRE Corporation, where he has worked mainly on aviation applications of GNSS since 1992. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from WPI and a Doctor of Science degree in EE from The George Washington University. He is currently the Chair of the Program Management Committee and is Co-Chair of SC-159. He is co-author of the textbook, Understanding GPS: Principles and Applications, 2nd Ed, and co-editor of Artech House’s GNSS Technology and Applications Series. He served as President of the U.S. Institute of Navigation (ION) in 2008, and is a Fellow of both the ION and IEEE.
Dr. George Ligler, as an engineering executive at Texas Instruments and Burroughs, and later as a consultant to Project Management Enterprises, Inc. (PMEI), has participated in aviation activities since the late 1970’s and on RTCA committees since 1990. George is a long-time member of RTCA’s Program Management Committee and is also a member of both the NextGen Advisory Committee Subcommittee and Plenary leadership for the Industry’s/FAA’s Equip 2020 initiative related to ADS-B out equipage. George is Co-Chair of SC-159, a former Co-Chair of SC-228, and has been active in SC-186 since its inception. George was awarded the 2006 RTCA Achievement Award for his contributions to ADS-B and Satellite-Based Navigation System Initiatives. Apart from his work in aviation, George has provided consulting services in the computer and telecommunications systems industries to over 40 clients on three continents. He has also provided pro bono services through four Panels and Committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, as well as to Georgia Tech and, as a Special Government Employee, for the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. On February 8th of this year, George was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering “For leadership and engineering innovation in specifying and implementing complex computer-based systems for aviation and the U.S. Census.”
George holds a B.S. degree in Mathematics from Furman University and Masters and Doctorate degrees in Computer Science from Oxford University, where his studies were supported by a Rhodes Scholarship.