ESA salutes Galileo satellite system meeting aviation standards

Feb. 1, 2024
It's all in the software, Richard Speed writes for The Register.

PARIS - The European Space Agency (ESA) has celebrated the Galileo satellite navigation system meeting civil aviation standards governing flight phases from take-off to landing and explained how the feat was done, Richard Speed writes for The RegisterContinue reading original article.

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

1 February 2024 - "Galileo, already the world’s most precise satellite navigation system, now meets international standards to guide civil aviation from take-off to landing, complementing Europe’s EGNOS for the most critical operations," the ESA writes. "Galileo was not designed to comply with these strict safety requirements, so how did engineers at ESA achieve this feat? This is a tale of engineering excellence. "

In civil aviation, particularly during critical stages like final approaches, the reliability of navigation systems is of paramount importance. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has established stringent requirements that these systems must meet to be utilized in Safety-of-Life operations. These operations involve scenarios where a system malfunction could result in significant human or environmental catastrophes.

Galileo was not initially designed to adhere to these rigorous integrity standards, as Europe already had EGNOS, a dedicated Safety-of-Life system for navigation. EGNOS enhances GPS signals for crucial operations in aviation, maritime navigation, agriculture, and more. However, in 2016, the European Space Agency (ESA) collaborated with the European Commission (EC) and the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) to enhance Galileo's reliability and suitability for civil aviation. The goal was to establish it as a standalone support system en route, complemented by EGNOS during take-off and landing.

Despite having 18 satellites already orbiting Earth in 2016 and the ongoing deployment of the remaining satellites, a complete system redesign was not feasible. Therefore, the team embraced flexible thinking and a creative approach, true to the ESA style, to push the engineering boundaries and ensure Galileo's effectiveness in civil aviation.

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Jamie Whitney, Senior Editor
Military + Aerospace Electronics

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