2016 Fellow

Presented to: Karl Kovach

Citation: For significant contributions to the development of GPS, its signals, interface specifications and performance standards.


Karl Kovach made the initial surveys of military user needs that helped enable successful integration of GPS in air, land, and sea platform in the U.S. military. As a flight test engineer, he conducted initial developmental testing of Phase I military receivers for aircraft navigation and weapon guidance, helping to prove transformational utility of GPS precision in military operations.

Mr. Kovach has made significant contributions to military and civilian aviation applications of GPS. He played a direct role in the adoption of GPS by the NATO alliance by developing the initial NATO Standard Agreement characteristics for GPS. He developed an (IFMEA) database of all GPS signal anomalies and aberrations upon which many key system integrity requirements are based. He conducted key testing and evaluation of RAIM-type algorithms for the DOD airborne receivers. After Selective Availability was discontinued in 2000, he updated the ICAO SARPS to reflect this new era of accuracy for civil aviation users. He developed the certification approach which allowed military aircraft to fly in US airspace using PPS receivers. He also developed the new approaches to integrity for GPS III and OCX, which include stringent new requirements for Signal-in-Space deformation and anomalies in addition to RAIM.

Mr. Kovach has contributed to the design of every GPS signal, from the legacy C/A code and P(Y) code, to the modernized L2C, L5, L1C, and M-code signals. This included developing the message structure for the Wide Area GPS Enhancement (WAGE) corrections, which provides significant accuracy improvements to military GPS users. The success of GPS, the creation of new industries and applications based on GPS, and the resulting development of GNSS inspired by GPS, are due to his contributions. Additionally, he has been a tireless mentor to multiple generations of engineers over the years.

Mr. Kovach is a senior project leader with The Aerospace Corporation. He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California Los Angeles.