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Galileo Incident of July 2019: Independent Inquiry Board provides final recommendations

Galileo Incident of July 2019: Independent Inquiry Board provides final recommendations
Published on: 19/11/2019

Context

Since December 2016, Galileo provides so-called “initial services” which already improve everyday life for citizens and businesses with accurate positioning, navigation and timing signals At the same time, Galileo is undergoing extensive system upgrades to prepare for the ‘full operational services’ phase. With already more than a billion users worldwide, Galileo is expected to provide stable and permanent services. Note that during this initial ‘pilot' phase preceding the ‘full operational services' phase, Galileo signals are used in combination with other satellite navigation systems. In the full operational phase, users will be able to use Galileo signals independently of other satellite navigation systems. The upgrade of the system from its initial phase to its “fully operational phase” will further reinforce the redundancy of the system, and service continuity

On 10 July 2019, during a system upgrade, a service incident occurred in the Galileo ground infrastructure. Despite intense recovery efforts, it resulted in a six-day interruption of the Galileo initial navigation and timing services.

The European Commission set up an independent Inquiry Board to investigate the incident and provide recommendations to avoid similar incidents in the future. The Board - composed of Member States’ experts with significant experience in complex operational transport, space and defence projects - delivered its final recommendations to the Commission on 4 November.

Findings

The independent Inquiry Board confirmed the programme’s findings related to the incident, i.e. the incident was triggered by a combination of events in a context of temporary limitation of redundancy, due to the ongoing upgrade of Galileo ground infrastructures:

  • mishandling of a temporary equipment installed for the upgrade;
  • technical anomaly of an equipment;
  • non-standard configuration of the equipment that was subject to the anomaly.

Recommendations

The Inquiry Board recommends that service continuity is Galileo’s primary driving force, which needs to be guaranteed. During the Galileo initial services phase, the focus has been on the development and performance of the system, which has exceeded expectations. Since Galileo is an operational system, service continuity needs to be guaranteed, also when evolutions or upgrades take place. In particular, the Board recommends to:

  • review Galileo’s operational management to better meet the needs of a service-driven exploitation phase and parallel evolution, while ensuring service continuity, integrating an oversight function;
  • improve service continuity, system stability and system resilience, including operability;
  • enhance operation, maintenance and configuration management, including training;
  • ensure prompt and structured institutional communication towards users and Member States in crisis situations.

Follow-up actions

The European Commission, as overall responsible for Galileo and its security, is drawing lessons from the Inquiry Board recommendations to ensure that Galileo is a stable, robust and resilient system. Together with the EU Agency (GSA) and the support by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Commission is developing an action plan for the implementation of the Board’s recommendations, which will be presented to Member States in December.

Service continuity remains the priority for Galileo and shall drive all activities: from design and development to operation, maintenance and evolution. Following the incident, our experts are putting in place measures to reinforce the robustness of the system: for example, a unique end-to end maintenance and configuration management, update operational procedures and processes, as well as crisis communication.