EGNOS navigation system begins serving Europe's aircraft

Mar 03, 2011
One of Eurocontrol's EGNOS pioneers, this Aurigny Airlines Trislander can perform EGNOS-guided approaches using runway procedures published for Southampton Airport in the UK and Alderney Airport in the Channel Islands. This activity took place through the partnership of the UK's National Air Traffic Services (NATS), Aurigny Airlines and Anglo Normandy Engineering, with the support of the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the States of Guernsey. Credit: Eurocontrol

Today, the EGNOS Safety-of-Life signal was formally declared available to aviation. For the first time, space-based navigation signals have become officially usable for the critical task of vertically guiding aircraft during landing approaches.

By using three satellites and a 40-strong network of ground stations, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System (EGNOS) sharpens the accuracy of GPS satnav signals across .

The signals are guaranteed to the extremely high reliability set out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation standard, adapted for Europe by Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation.

The EGNOS Open Service was launched in October 2009, for navigation applications where the safety of human life is not at stake, such as , goods tracking and precision farming.

Today, following an arduous certification and verification process, the EGNOS Safety-of-Life Service has been declared operational, and suitable for use by European aviation.

“We are very proud of the large effort ESA put into EGNOS, and very pleased that it can now be used for the purpose it was initially designed for,” said Philippe Michel, head of ESA’s EGNOS project team.

The US GPS global satellite navigation system has an accuracy of 5-10 m. Across our continent that accuracy is greatly sharpened to 1-2 m through the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), an operational precursor to Europe’s coming Galileo global satnav system. EGNOS broadcasts augmented information through a trio of geostationary satellites linked to a network of monitoring ground stations. Credit: ESA

“Through EGNOS, satellite navigation guidance is being made available for the first time in the vertical as well as horizontal domain,” explained Francisco Salabert of Eurocontrol.

“EGNOS offers the aviation industry the means to provide accurate and safe vertically guided approaches to smaller airports where a conventional precision landing system is not today economically viable.

“Its introduction will reduce delays, diversions and cancellations of flights into and out of these airfields while improving passenger safety.”

In order to use EGNOS for approaches, Air Service Providers must publish runway procedures and aircraft and operators have to be equipped with certified receivers and be approved for operations.

“Eurocontrol is coordinating EGNOS’s operational introduction across Europe,” Mr Salabert added. “Runway procedures have already been designed for various airports and heliports, with more on the way.

“On the airline side, we are encouraging early adaptors – called EGNOS pioneers.”

After six years in operation, the ‘WAAS’ US equivalent to EGNOS, is being used by more than 40 000 aircraft and more than 2000 procedures have been published.

Some 15 years in the making, EGNOS is the result of a tripartite agreement between ESA, the European Commission (EC) and Eurocontrol.

As initial EGNOS programme manager, ESA designed, qualified and procured the system from a consortium led by Thales Alenia Space France. Overall programme management passed to the EC in 2009. The system's day-to-day running is overseen by the Toulouse-based European Service Provider (ESSP).

Meeting the aviation industry’s demanding safety requirements, set by Eurocontrol, posed the real challenge for EGNOS’s Safety-of-Life service.

ESA produced much of the technical documentation needed for formal safety certification, while Eurocontrol performed independent monitoring of EGNOS performance.

The final system comes with an extremely high degree of integrity built in. The EGNOS signal is guaranteed to maintain a minimum level of accuracy, with just a one in 10 million chance of error.

If this reliability falls below this level then EGNOS users are alerted within six seconds.

ESA is now acting as the design and procurement agent on behalf of the EC for all major EGNOS system changes throughout its operational lifetime, as well as preparing for the next-generation EGNOS, expected around 2020.

Explore further: SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Helicopter flight trials for EGNOS

Jul 18, 2007

Successful trials have recently been conducted at Lausanne, Switzerland, using the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) to guide a helicopter as it approached and touched down at an emergency ...

EU unveils more precise satnav system

Oct 01, 2009

(AP) -- The European Union has unveiled an updated satellite navigation system that is up to five times more precise than the current GPS system.

Two years in space for Galileo satellite

Dec 19, 2007

On 28 December, it will be two years since GIOVE-A - the first Galileo satellite - was launched by a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur, in Kazakhstan. This satellite demonstrates the progress Europe has made in setting ...

Receivers key to Galileo success

Oct 26, 2006

Europe's navigation system requires new receiver designs to make use of the transmissions from its satellite constellation. European industry is developing and supplying receivers for the in-orbit validation ...

Recommended for you

SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

Dec 19, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level flare on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:58 p.m. EST. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts ...

Why is Venus so horrible?

Dec 19, 2014

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you ...

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

Dec 19, 2014

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Video: Flying over Becquerel

Dec 19, 2014

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

Spinning up a dust devil on Mars

Dec 19, 2014

Spinning up a dust devil in the thin air of Mars requires a stronger updraft than is needed to create a similar vortex on Earth, according to research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.