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EGNOS improves GPS and makes air navigation safer

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Europe made its first venture into satellite navigation with EGNOS, a service which has significantly improved the accuracy of existing satellite positioning signals. Now, huge advancements in aviation are also being made as EGNOS – already available at more than 80 EU airports – enables more precise landings, fewer delays and diversions and more efficient routes.

The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) increases the accuracy of the Global Positioning System (GPS) by providing positioning accuracy within three metres – GPS alone is only reliable to within 17 metres. Such precision has aided mapping, agriculture, location-based services and numerous other areas.

Now more than ever, aviation is also being enhanced by EGNOS. One of the many high-performance navigation and positioning services unleashed by EGNOS is the Safety of Life Service (SoL), which enables precision landing approaches and makes air navigation safer at more than 80 European airports – a number which is increasing every week. SoL also allows airports to increase their overall capacity and cut operating costs by creating shorter, more fuel efficient routes, thereby reducing CO2 emissions.

SoL improves aviation with:

  • Increased safety: Even in poor weather conditions, SoL’s precision landing capabilities significantly reduce safety risks.
  • Lower operating costs: The EGNOS signal is provided free of charge and only requires a receiver on board the aircraft. No ground infrastructure is required in order to operate with EGNOS.
  • Fewer delays, diversions and cancellations: EGNOS requires lower aircraft separation limits at busy airports, meaning fewer delays, diversions and flight cancellations.
  • Less noise pollution: The optimised flight routes and ‘curved approach’ procedures made possible by EGNOS allow planes to optimise their descent to the runway, limiting noise in areas surrounding the airports.
  • Increased capacity for smaller airports: The vertical guidance offered by the system means planes are able to land in restricted visibility conditions, increasing the capacity of airports, especially small and medium-sized airports that cannot afford more expensive alternative technologies.

More countries join EGNOS

In spring 2013, two working agreements were signed on the implementation of EGNOS-based operations in Poland and the Exeter and Devon Airport in the UK. These come in addition to agreements in France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the UK Channel Island of Guernsey. The use of EGNOS services will improve safety, accessibility and efficiency for pilots and operators, without the need for infrastructure installation and maintenance.

EGNOS Data Access Service

EGNOS’s applications go far beyond airports. The EGNOS Open Service, which is available to everybody, lets citizens profit from better personal Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) services.

In addition, the EGNOS Data Access Service (EDAS) is a terrestrial commercial service that offers professional users ground-based access to EGNOS data. By making GPS data available via the Internet, EDAS ensures that users can access EGNOS information even if the EGNOS satellite signal in space is unavailable – for example, because of signal obstruction in urban areas. EDAS provides the same information as EGNOS along with extra data, enabling the creation of new and innovative products and services. The result is a reliable service which the European Commission is fully committed to on a long-term basis.

Background

Known as a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS), EGNOS creates opportunities for Europeans to use more accurate positioning data, making it possible to improve or develop a wide range of new services for different market segments.

EGNOS is made up of transponders on board three geostationary satellites, as well as an interconnected ground network of 40 positioning stations and four control centres, which cover most of the territory of the EU.

EGNOS is owned by the European Commission and was launched in 2009 as part of the Galileo global satellite navigation system. The European Space Agency designed EGNOS under a delegation agreement with the Commission.

EGNOS is the first pan-European satellite navigation system. Similar services are provided in North America by the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS); in Japan by the Multifunctional Satellite Augmentation System (MSAS); and in India by the GAGAN System. Other SBASs are being developed in other regions of the world.

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