EGNOS operational for aviation

The availability of EGNOS to aviation announced on 2 March by the European Commission, means that aircraft will soon be able to use satellite technologies to establish their vertical positioning during approaches. As a result, the number of flights delayed, diverted or cancelled due to low visibility should fall while safety standards will be maintained.
GPS has been used by aviation in Europe since the 1990s for horizontal positioning for both en-route and TMA operations. EGNOS, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, complements and improves the accuracy of GPS and alerts users to any GPS errors or malfunctions. The European Commissions declaration allows the progressive publication of approaches based on EGNOS across Europe in the years to come, starting with first EGNOS flights in March 2011.

The introduction of EGNOS, is a major milestone for satellite technologies in aviation, as it will allow the use of satellite systems for both horizontal and vertical positioning, said Bo Redeborn, Principal Director ATM at EUROCONTROL. EGNOS will support all navigation applications defined in the ICAO PBN (Performance Based Navigation) manual and has the potential to reduce decision minima compared to conventional non-precision approaches without the need for an ILS and irrespective of baro-altimeter limitations. This will provide real benefits to airspace users in terms of accessibility of airports, reducing delays and cancellations while maintaining todays high safety levels. In addition, EGNOS is free of charge and will allow for savings in maintenance costs associated with ground-based conventional navigation aids used for approach.

In order to use EGNOS for approaches, ANSPs must publish procedures and aircraft must be equipped with appropriately certified receivers and be approved for the operations. EUROCONTROL is enabling the use of EGNOS by defining its concept of operations, supporting procedures design, conducting a generic safety assessment, supporting EASA in the development of airworthiness and operational approval material, developing a NOTAM tool and managing pre-operational projects.

It is expected that EGNOS will extend its coverage to ECAC countries and will, once adequate operational experience has been acquired, support approaches equivalent to ILS CAT-I. EGNOS is interoperable with other SBAS (Satellite Based Augmentation System) systems (WAAS in North America and MSAS in Japan). Already more than 2000 procedures based on WAAS have been published in the USA by the FAA since 2004 and thousands of aircraft are already equipped with SBAS avionics.

EUROCONTROL has been working towards the provision of EGNOS for more than 15 years in cooperation with aviation stakeholders in the ECAC area, the EC, ESA, GSA (European GNSS Agency) and the certified EGNOS Service Provider (ESSP). EUROCONTROL is the aviation focal point for EGNOS, and its role includes adapting ICAO requirements to Europe, undertaking an independent operational performance assessment and coordinating its operational introduction.

Some 15 years in the making, EGNOS is the result of a tripartite agreement between ESA, the European Commission and EUROCONTROL.
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