EGNOS: A High Precision, Low Cost tool for Air Traffic Management

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26 February 2013

The ability of EGNOS to enable cost-effective Performance-based Navigation (PBN) was highlighted at the World Air Traffic Management (ATM) Congress in Madrid in mid-February. Satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS), such as EGNOS, can provide the required high precision without the need for costly investment.

ESSP and EGNOS stand at the ATM expo. © ReynoldsIn its first year, the World ATM Congress quickly established its position as an important global event for the aviation sector. For 2013 the venue was Madrid and the congress and associated trade exhibition ran from 12 to 14 February attracting over 5 000 participants. EGNOS was a prominent contributor to proceedings.

On the afternoon of 13 February the European GNSS Agency (GSA) organised a dedicated workshop on the ‘EGNOS contribution to European ATM’. Augmented satellite navigation is one of the key enabling technologies for implementing improved air navigation concepts, such as Performance-based Navigation (PBN). EGNOS is already certified for civil aviation in Europe and is an essential element of the European regional PBN plan, which aims to provide vertical guidance (LPV) capability at all landing sites.

EGNOS evolution

The workshop was introduced by Carmen Aguilera, Aviation Market Development Officer at the GSA, who underlined the benefits of EGNOS for aviation in Europe as a key technical enabler for the Single European Sky operational concept. EGNOS provides vertical guidance enabling precision approaches without the need of costly ground infrastructure. In addition airlines operating from medium sized or light traffic aerodromes, where an Instrument Landing System (ILS) is not available or cost effective, can obtain significant benefits due to the reduction of flights cancelled, delayed or diverted due to bad weather conditions.

Carmen Aguilera © Reynolds“The low cost of implementing an EGNOS LPV solution is roughly equivalent to the annual maintenance bill for conventional ground-based equipment,” she explained. “But can offer benefits including increased safety, increased access in poor weather and improved business continuity. EGNOS has a strong value proposition.”

The GSA offers support for implementing LPV, including training for users, cost benefit analysis and co-funding for LPV procedure development and fleet retrofit.

How the EGNOS service will develop over the next few years was explained by Javier de Blas from European Satellite Service Provider (ESSP). The next version of EGNOS will allow LPV down to a decision height of 200 feet (LPV200) and CAT1 landing performance, as well as a substantial extension of coverage to include the whole of the EU (except Cyprus) by 2015.

The robustness of the service will also be further improved through the deployment of two new additional RIMS (range and integrity monitoring stations) and the launch of two new satellites to replace exiting space infrastructure.

“The aim is to be fully ICAO compliant by Q3 2015,” said Javier. “And we are working with Eurocontrol to achieve this.”

Rick Farnworth. © ReynoldsThe view from Eurocontrol was given by Rick Farnworth. He explained that ICAO recommends deploying approaches with vertical guidance at all runways by 2016 in Europe and EGNOS is one of the enablers of the European regional PBN plan. Moreover, the PBN implementing rule under development will place obligations on operators to equip and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) to publish procedures.

He believes that EGNOS, and SBAS in general, is very useful especially for smaller passenger aircrafts and general aviation. A key feature is the integrity of the EGNOS signal. “If there is something wrong then you get a warning,” he said at the Eurocontrol stand prior to the workshop. “Other more expensive solutions do not have this feature.”

Rick also appreciates SBAS for its safety aspects and its ability to improve access without dependence on ground-based navigational aids.


The Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) is a major joint effort to develop and deploy a new generation ATM system for a safe and efficient air space for the next 30 years over Europe – one of the densest aviation spaces in the world.

Aitor Alvarez-Rodriguez © Reynolds“EGNOS is a key enabler for SESAR,” stated of Spanish Air Navigation Service Provider, AENA. “The aim is to evolve from a ground-based system to satellite-based system and EGNOS will be the main enabler for approach operations here.”

EGNOS has two principle roles: to facilitate development and deployment of LPV approaches in Europe now, and to enable the development of innovative approaches in the future.

Javier Murcia from Spanish company, INECO, described the EU-funded research project, ‘FilGAPP’, which is developing such advanced, innovative EGNOS-enabled operations in SESAR. These developments will improve cost efficiency and also achieve environmental benefits, such as reduced noise and emissions.

The final presentation of the day came from Heinz Wipf from Skyguide, the Swiss air traffic management authority. He described some of the issues in the implementation of EGNOS-enabled approach procedures in Swiss airspace and highlighted the flexible nature of SBAS navigation. For example, short-term approach procedures could be easily developed and implemented.

Media note: This feature can be republished without charge provided the European GNSS Agency (GSA) is acknowledged as the source at the top or the bottom of the story. You must request permission before you use any of the photographs on the site. If you republish, we would be grateful if you could link back to the GSA website.

More information:

The European GNSS Agency

EGNOS Portal

FilGAPP FP7 project

World ATM Congress

Updated: Mar 06, 2014