European GPS augmentation service to start by 2010

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The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) could be operating in Europe by 2010 if a contract is signed early next year by the European Commission and the European Satellite Services Provider (ESSP) consortium.

EGNOS is part of the European Union's Galileo satellite navigation system but it will augment the US Navstar GPS civil signal for flight operations before Galileo's 2013 deployment. The advantages the EC expects from EGNOS include decommissioning of costly ground-based navigation aids, more efficient air traffic management, lower risk of flight-into-terrain accidents, reduced noise in approaches, increased capacity and more efficient approach trajectories. The contract, in accordance with Single European Sky regulation, will cover EGNOS operations and its certification that is planned for the end of 2009.

"The European Commission will enter into a direct negotiation with [ESSP] for a limited time contract, tentatively five years, yet is still to be negotiated. The bid deadline is mid-November and it is expected that a contract will be signed in early 2009," says the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems supervisory authority (GSA). As an EU regulatory authority the GSA will oversee the corporate management of Galileo's assets, which the EC legally owns.

The total cost to date for EGNOS's implementation is €640 million ($883 million). Despite achieving an initial operational capability in July 2005 and being scheduled to be fully operational in March 2007, three years after its original 2004 target date, the problems with Galileo has delayed that to 2010. The operation of EGNOS was to be managed by a winning consortium under the original Galileo public private partnership arrangement that collapsed last year.

EGNOS uses four interconnected master control centres and three geostationary satellites, Inmarsat's Indian Ocean Region and Atlantic Ocean Region-East satellites and ESA's Artemis spacecraft, to transmit error correction data to its 34 ranging and integrity monitoring stations (RIMS), which are located from Lisbon to Turkey. A delay in the operation of RIMS in north Africa is not expected to halt certification, but it will mean EGNOS service coverage over its entire area might not be fully consistent.