The European Commission has officially launched the EGNOS Safety-of-Life Service for aviation, promising a new means of increasing air passenger safety. The EGNOS system enables approaches with performance comparable to ILS CAT I without any ground infrastructure, rendering air navigation safer while reducing delays, diversions and flight cancellations.
EGNOS is a satellite-based augmentation system that improves the accuracy of GPS signals across Europe.
Speaking on 2 March 2011, European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said, "Europe’s first contribution to satellite navigation, EGNOS, will considerably increase the safety of air navigation, provide economic benefits to airports and airlines and help reduce CO2 emissions."
Launched in October 2009, EGNOS has so far been available only for 'Open Service' applications such as personal navigation and precision farming. Following a certification and verification process, the system is now also available for use in aviation.
What EGNOS does for aviation:
- Increased accessibility for smaller airports: Vertical guidance means lower minima, so planes can land under conditions of restricted visibility, increasing the accessibility of airports, especially small and medium-sized airports that cannot afford more expensive alternative technologies.
- Lower operating costs: The EGNOS signal is free of charge and requires only a receiver aboard the aircraft, no ground infrastructure.
- Fewer delays, diversions and cancellations: The ability to land in poor meteorological conditions will result in fewer delays, diversions and cancellations, reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
- Increased passenger safety: The system allows for much better situational awareness for the pilot, significantly reducing safety risks, especially in poor weather conditions.
To use the new Safety-of-Life service, airports must have EGNOS-specific landing procedures for their runways and aircraft need to be equipped with EGNOS-enabled receivers.
Today, EGNOS services are being delivered in all 27 EU member states. Switzerland and part of Norway are also covered. The geographical coverage will be further extended so that the improved safety for passengers and crews will apply to a growing number of countries.
"This announcement also marks the start of Europe's serious presence in the area of satellite navigation," added Tajani. "EGNOS is the result of a successful collaboration between the European Union, the European Space Agency and industrial partners. We therefore have the basis and the model to ensure an even more successful collaboration as we move towards the deployment of the Galileo system."