EGNOS fills a gap in making satellite navigation more accurate

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12 February 2010

EGNOS is Europe’s contribution to the global effort in making satellite-based navigation more precise, presenters told delegates to the annual ION GNSS conference held in the US.

The 2009 Institute of Navigation (ION) GNSS Conference was the ideal venue to unveil the advances made in developing EGNOS to the point where it is ready to be used for more precise location-based services. As one of the world’s largest technical meetings and a showcase of GNSS technology, it attracted 1,600 policymakers, administrators and business representatives to Savannah, Georgia from 22-25 September.

Cedric Seynat © Ahmed ElAminCedric Seynat © Ahmed ElAmin

It is an important venue for companies attempting to determine how to spend their budgets in developing products for the evolving market. To increase awareness of the current operational status of EGNOS, the European Commission had a stand in the exhibitors’ hall and unveiled a new promotional campaign for EGNOS – a shooting star with the slogan “Wherever you are, follow the new star”.

Videos of EGNOS in operation and handout folders with information on the technical details of the satellite-based augmentation system were available to delegates.

At presentation sessions, participants listened to updates on the various satellite navigation programmes being developed worldwide. Maps showed how EGNOS fits into the global framework for such systems. EGNOS covers most of Europe, with three geostationary satellites beaming signals that make GPS accurate to within two metres.

Meanwhile, WAAS, the US version of EGNOS, covers North America and part of Mexico. India’s GAGAN and Japan’s QZSS satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS) will cover most of the rest of world once operational.

International cooperation

The US, Europe, India, Japan and China have pledged to cooperate in ensuring the compatibility of all the systems, allowing manufacturers to comply with a single standard when developing receivers for use in a global marketplace.

In one presentation, Cedric Seynat, an EGNOS programme officer with the European Commission, outlined the steps that led up to the launch of the system’s Open Service this year.

From June 2003 when the first master control centre (MCC) was inaugurated at Langen, Germany to now, the EGNOS ground infrastructure has been developed to become a network of about 40 positioning stations and four control centres. This year EGNOS version 2.3 was deployed and is being tested. Version 2.3.1 is expected to be available next year and includes three more Ranging and Integrity Monitoring Stations (RIMS) and signal processing improvements.

In addition the EGNOS Data Access Server (EDAS) service was made available as a beta test as part of the Commercial Service to be launched next year, Seynat said. The Safety-of-Life is awaiting certification underf the Single European Sky regulations. Once certified, the service will be available for use by the aviation sector and for other applications where human lives are at stake, he said.

This certification phase of EGNOS operations is particularly important as it would allow aircraft manufacturers and airlines to integrate receivers that can be used for landing in both North America and Europe, he said. Airlines will be able to operate seamlessly between the two SBAS coverage areas, helping them to improve the efficiency of their landing procedures and passenger safety at airports.

“Plans for the publication of SBAS approach procedures have already been confirmed to Eurocontrol by Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Portugal,” he said. France plans to publish a total of 20 EGNOS-based flight procedures in 2009, with 25-30 expected to be published each year from 2010.

He emphasised that Europe continues to support the further development of EGNOS by funding research and development projects through its Framework Programmes for research. Europe is currently considering extending the EGNOS broadcast area to other regions, including the EU’s neighbours and Africa.

Future developments

Co-presenter Daniel Brocard, an EGNOS system architect from the European Space Agency (ESA), said Europe will continue to improve the EGNOS service, which has achieved an availability of better than 99% over the coverage area. Three additional RIMS will be completed next year to increase the coverage area toward the south.

“Today, EGNOS demonstrates a high level of performance,” he noted.

EGNOS will operate alongside Galileo, Europe’s GNSS that is expected to become operational in 2013. Galileo will provide the independence of Europe in satellite navigation.

In addition to the presentations, two separate sessions were held to outline the continuing technical research into improving the EGNOS and Galileo systems.

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More information:

EGNOS launched on 1 October

Updated: Sep 01, 2014