The European Space Agency (ESA) has commissioned a special six-month study "to establish a long-term vision on the use of satellite technology in CNS/ATM" (communications, navigation and surveillance/air traffic management). The contract has been won by the Air Traffic Alliance (ATA), a grouping of EADS Astrium, Airbus and Thales Air Traffic Management, who will lead an "industry consortium" in their research.

Satellite technology already plays a part in CNS/ATM through global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and satellite communications enabling oceanic automatic dependent surveillance. ATA's task is to "examine the roles expected for satellite technologies in systems for CNS/ATM beyond 2020".

Despite the attraction and simplicity of GNSS as a sole-means air navigation system, current GNSS technology cannot provide sufficient integrity for precision approaches.

Source: Flight International