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Off we go into the wild blue yonder : Galileo achieves its first airborne tracking (© ESA) Published on: 16/12/2013

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Off we go into the wild blue yonder : Galileo achieves its first airborne tracking (© ESA)

ESA’s Galileo satellites have achieved their very first aerial fix of longitude, latitude and altitude, enabling the inflight tracking of a test aircraft. ESA’s four Galileo satellites in orbit have supported months of positioning tests on the ground across Europe since the very first fix back in March.

Now the first aerial tracking using Galileo has taken place, marking the first time ever that Europe has been able to determine the position of an aircraft using only its own independent navigation system.

This milestone took place on a Fairchild Metro-II above Gilze-Rijen Air Force Base in the Netherlands at 12:38 GMT on 12 November.

It came as part of an aerial campaign overseen jointly by ESA and the National Aerospace Laboratory of the Netherlands, NLR, with the support of Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, and LVNL, the Dutch Air Navigation Service Provider. 

A pair of Galileo test receivers was used aboard the aircraft, the same kind currently employed for Galileo testing in the field and in labs across Europe. They were connected to an aeronautical-certified triple-frequency Galileo-ready antenna mounted on top of the aircraft [..]