Brussels, 10 July 2012
Commission continues to upgrade EGNOS for higher positioning accuracy
Many EU citizens may have noticed the improvement in the accuracy of GPS signals over the past three years, thanks to the enhancement provided by EGNOS the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, which is owned and managed by the European Union. As part of the actions undertaken by the European Commission to upgrade and maintain the EGNOS system, a new EGNOS transponder was launched last night on board an SES satellite from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The new transponder will replace the one currently aboard an Inmarsat satellite. It will continue to provide higher accuracy positioning signals to both citizens and professionals using an EGNOS-enabled GPS receiver. Europeans already benefit from these improved positioning signals since October 2009. In addition, since March 2011, air carriers with a certified receiver aboard their aircraft can use EGNOS for en-route navigation and precision approaches, enabling safer landings and more energy-efficient flights (see below and IP/11/247). EGNOS is Europe's first contribution to satellite navigation and is the precursor to Galileo.
European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "This new EGNOS launch demonstrates the Commission's commitment to providing positioning signals with the highest possible accuracy to citizens and businesses in Europe. This opens up a multitude of business opportunities, today and in the future, especially when EGNOS will start working with Galileo when Galileo becomes operational in 2014."
EGNOS increases the accuracy of GPS and enables applications requiring higher precision by correcting errors caused by atmospheric disturbance factors. Citizens can profit from better personal GPS navigation provided that they use an EGNOS-enabled receiver (as most of the recent models do). This Open Service is also already widely used in agriculture for high precision applications such as the spraying of fertilisers and in mapping for an accurate measurement of areas.
The Safety-of-Life Service of EGNOS was made available in March 2011. It enables precision landing approaches and renders air navigation safer as well reducing delays, diversions and cancellations of flights. In addition, this technology allows airports to increase their overall capacity and cut operating costs. EGNOS also enables the planning of shorter, more fuel-efficient routes which reduce the CO2 emissions of the aviation industry.
EGNOS is the first pan-European satellite navigation system. Similar services are provided in North America by the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) and in Japan by the Multifunctional Satellite Augmentation System (MSAS).
The EGNOS system works as follows: 34 ranging and integrity monitoring stations (RIMS) spread across Europe receive signals from the US GPS satellites; there are four mission control centers to handle data processing and differential corrections counting; and there are six navigation land earth stations that manage accuracy and reliability data for sending to the three satellite transponders for relay to end-user devices.