THE TRI-PARTITE group studying the introduction of a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) to Europe still doubts whether the USA has settled its civil/military institutional GNSS questions.

The group, formed 18 months ago and led by the European Commission (EC), includes Eurocontrol and the European Space Agency and aims " ensure that Europe has a unified position on satellite navigation".

EC satellite navigation director, Luc Tytgat, says that the EC is "not convinced the problems between the Department of Transport and the Pentagon are resolved".

Nevertheless, he stresses that the EC wants "to co-operate fully with the US Federal Aviation Administration" to make sure that the US wide-area augmentation system (WAAS) is "totally interoperable" with the proposed European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS).

The Group believes that the WAAS and the EGNOS will take the current "GNSS-1" to its maximum capability and, at a "still- unspecified date", a new GNSS 2 system "...which will almost certainly not rely on GPS", will be introduced, says Tytgat.

"We're convinced GNSS 1 will never be able to demonstrate that it can satisfy all of the institutional issues, such as total control of the system, that are needed for something that can be used for all modes of transport," says Tytgat.

Eurocontrol GNSS project leader Andrew Watt says that the GNSS1 would be "technically capable" of sole-means use by the year 2002, "...but this depends on institutional and political constraints". Tytgat says, that it would be available as a primary means of navigation, "for some oceanic and desert areas". It will "...never be used for primary navigation in the European core area", he adds.

Tytgat believes that a GNSS2 will not be deployed until "well into the next century". He stresses that aviation is not going to be the biggest user. "We see road transport taking 70% of the receivers."

Source: Flight International