Julian Moxon/PARIS

THOMSON-CSF has been awarded the production contract for the first phase of the European geostationary navigation-overlay system (EGNOS). The company has also been invited to tender for the study contracts for the second phase, making it highly likely it will become prime contractor for the entire ECU 100 million ($130 million) system.

EGNOS is the system which will enable Europe to benefit fully from US global-positioning-system (GPS) navigation satellites, supplying pan-European satellite navigation accurate enough to meet Category 1 landing requirements. Development of the system is being shared between the European Space Agency (ESA), Eurocontrol and the European Commission. Initial operational capability is set for 1998.

Thomson's US subsidiary, Wilcox, is already prime contractor for the US wide-area augmentation system, which will provide a similar overlay function. "Clearly, the fact that we already have experience over there, plus the need for guaranteed interoperability between the systems, was a major factor in the decisions," says Thomson.

France is contributing 45% of the funding for the Egnos, which includes its 100% contribution to the Phase 1 satellite-ranging function. This is based on three ground stations in French Guiana, Toulouse and South Africa, plus a main mission-control centre, all of which will be supplied by Thomson-CSF. The stations will be linked with an Inmarsat 3 geostationary satellite to provide the GPS ranging function.

Phase 2 involves development of integrity and wide-area differential functions, and will require up to 25 ground stations in Europe, although this may rise if the system is expanded to eastern Europe and beyond. ESA has asked Thomson-CSF to produce a fixed-price proposal for the system by mid-1996, which will include industrial contributions to be made by other countries. The UK and Spain seek up to 20% of the work, with Germany expected to take 15%.

Source: Flight International