Satellite navigation development essential for Europe

Published: 
10 February 2010

EGNOS and Galileo are needed to secure Europe’s interests in satellite navigation technologies, according to speakers at this year’s European Navigation Conference - Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ENC-GNSS).

The conference, held 3-6 May 2009.in Naples, Italy by the European Group of Institutes of Navigation (EUGIN), attracted about 300 delegates. They met to discuss current work and research in developing global satellite navigation technologies and applications.

Michel Bosco © Ahmed ElAminMichel Bosco © Ahmed ElAmin

Keynote speaker Michel Bosco, representing the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, described the advances made in creating the infrastructure for EGNOS and Galileo. Bosco is the deputy head of the satellite navigation programme unit dealing with applications and intelligent transport systems (ITS).

EGNOS, Europe’s satellite navigation augmentation network and the precursor to Galileo, is now operational, he told the audience. The European Commission took over ownership of EGNOS’ infrastructure 1 April 2009 on behalf of the Community from the European Space Agency.

Meanwhile, advance testing for the full Galileo constellation continues using the experimental GIOVE-A and GIOVE-B satellites, which are “functioning well”, he said. In parallel, the procurement process for the implementation of Galileo's full operational capability is proceeding as planned.

The fully deployed Galileo system will consist of 30 satellites plus the associated ground infrastructure. In addition, a new GNSS management structure is being put in place which will define the roles of the Directorate-General for Energy and Transport and the GSA, he said.

“A new Galileo agency is being formed to assist with market development, research, and promotion of EGNOS and Galileo,” he said.

He added: “We are now moving from infrastructure to applications with the objective of promoting the quickest and broadest uptake of EGNOS and Galileo.”

A plan for promoting the development of applications

The Green Paper on Satellite Navigation Applications, a series of market studies, ongoing stakeholders' consultation and analysis of the business cases submitted for the European Satellite Navigation Competition form the basis for guiding the Commission and the GSA in promoting EGNOS and Galileo.

Expert groups are being established to help guide the action plan, which will contribute to the EU policy objectives of boosting economic growth and jobs, Bosco said.
The priorities of applications development are location-based services (LBS), aviation, road and marine transport. Agriculture, environment, security and protection are all sectors that will benefit from EGNOS and Galileo.

“In the field of aviation, the road is being paved by EGNOS,” he said, and added that certification of the system for the sector is the next step.

More research funding is needed, especially for encouraging the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).The Commission is using established channels to involve SMEs and will assist SMEs in raising risk capital for developing applications, he said.

The dissemination of technical and commercial information about EGNOS and Galileo, along with research funding provided through the EU’s Framework Programmes will also encourage the development of applications, he said.

In a plenary session afterwards, panellists agreed that four GNSS systems would provide good competition and secure national interests. Europe is developing Galileo, Russia is re-developing GLONASS, China is establishing COMPASS and the US is creating GPS-III, the successor to GPS.

Interoperable systems

Lt Col David Goldstein, chief engineer for the GPS Wing of the US Air Force, said the main goal will be to ensure all four systems are interoperable with each other, thus allowing manufacturers to create products that can be used with any one of them. The competition has pushed the US to make GPS better, he said.

 “From my perspective it is all about sovereignty,” he said. “Each nation is going to be significantly dependent on GNSS. They cannot be dependent on another nation.”

He added: “I was not surprised that Europe is developing EGNOS and Galileo. These GNSS systems are needed now.”

Marco Falcone, the systems and operations manager of the Galileo Project Office at the European Space Agency, agreed that interoperability was an important goal. He also noted that more than 400 subcontracts to develop Galileo’s infrastructure have been signed. The assessment of bids for staged work packages is underway.

“The certification of EGNOS for use in civil aviation will form the bones of the system,” he said. He noted that certification procedures will follow the recommendations of the European Commission.

Research presented at technical sessions

Other speakers at the conference’s technical sessions presented their research into GNSS applications:

  • Luis Chocano presented an overview of the Giant project, which tested the use of EGNOS in civil aviation trials.
  • Ettore De Lellis presented work on an EGNOS-based navigation system for automating the landing of aircraft.
  • Pablo Haro presented research done during the Giant project, which examined horizontal and vertical guidance systems. Tests using aircraft were done at airports in Spain and Italy.
  • Brennan Haltli of MITRE Corporation provided details of research into improving the capacity and efficiency of airports through studies on landing aircraft on closely spaced parallel runways.
  • Renato Perago talked about research into the use of EGNOS at regional airports in Italy. The SIAM project is engaged in the operational testing of GNSS for airport approach procedures. The trials were done mainly at Palermo, Milano and Parma. “EGNOS can provide a repeatable, direct and more accurate route,” he said.
  • Norbert Suard discussed research into EGNOS’ timing accuracy which showed how the system improved on GPS. He said the research proved that the time provided by EGNOS showed no significant departure from the UTC time provided by the Paris-based atomic clock used as a standard.

More information:

European Navigation Conference - Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ENC-GNSS)
Green Paper on Satellite Navigation Applications
Giant project

Updated: Sep 03, 2014