News Item

Wed, 18 Apr 2018
News_Homepage, News_Space

Airbus and SCISYS are improving the accuracy of satellite navigation

Satellite navigation is getting more accurate and more reliable: within one to three metres instead of ten to twenty metres. Airbus is collaborating with the Bochum-based space company SCISYS to develop Version V3 of the satellite- and ground-based augmentation system EGNOS. The EGNOS V3 project, run by the European Space Agency (ESA), uses additional ground stations to improve the positioning capabilities of existing satellite navigation systems such as GPS, Glonass and Galileo, even in the event of atmospheric disturbances.

Millions of people use the American Global Positioning System (GPS), the Russian system Glonass or the European system Galileo to navigate the world. Less well known is EGNOS – an augmentation system that has been operated since 2009 by the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA) on behalf of the European Union. ESA is responsible for the system’s technical evolution. EGNOS optimises the positioning accuracy of existing satellite navigation systems using transponders on geostationary satellites and a Europe-wide network of ground stations. From 2018 onwards, this network will be developed by a consortium of experts led by Airbus’s space division. With EGNOS, a helicopter on autopilot can find its way to an injured skier in a snowstorm, for example, to an accuracy of within one metre. Without EGNOS, the margin of error for satellite-based navigation is several metres, which generally means it cannot be used for safety-critical applications.

SCISYS as a partner in the EGNOS V3 team
To enhance the performance of EGNOS even further, Airbus has commissioned SCISYS to provide important subsystems for the next stage in the system’s development, under the project name EGNOS V3. 

“We have been involved in developing the European satellite network Galileo for the past 18 years, and we were able to impress Airbus with our expertise in the field of satellite navigation,” says Dr Peter Scheidgen (business development manager in the Space department of SCISYS Deutschland) with visible enthusiasm.

“We are confident that our expert knowledge will enable us to make a valuable contribution to the EGNOS project which, together with Galileo is the basis of European satellite navigation.“

SCISYS will help to improve the performance and reliability of the EGNOS ground stations even further. To do this, the team will use a software framework it has developed called egmc2.

“The framework makes it possible to monitor, manage and configure the complex EGNOS infrastructures, and provides state-of-the-art archiving and data processing technologies,” Scheidgen explains.

“Over the next few years, our experts will be responsible for the integration, verification and maintenance of important subsystems of EGNOS V3.”

Background: satellite navigation systems have to contend with the ionosphere as a source of interference
One source of interference faced by established satellite navigation systems such as the American Global Positioning System (GPS) is the ionosphere, a part of the atmosphere that influences the speed of radio signals with ions and free electrons. These so-called ‘runtime effects’ significantly reduce the positioning accuracy of GPS single-frequency receivers.

Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) like EGNOS improve positioning accuracy. EGNOS consists of a network of over 40 ground stations all over Europe, which analyse data from navigation satellites and send correction data to receivers via Galileo satellites. The receivers can apply this data to the navigation signals and thus improve positioning accuracy to between one and three metres. The integrity of the systems is also increased – users are notified within six seconds if reception is disturbed.

The work in this contract is financed by the European Union (EU). The statements made in this press release do not represent the official opinion of Airbus, the European Union, the GSA and/or the ESA.

Contact:
Christoph Wichmann
Business Communication SPACE
+49 234/9258 0