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“The key issue in Asia is harmonization”
What key issues in Asia should be taken on priority related to air navigation?
The key issue in the region is harmonization, which is not just a regional issue but rather a global matter. Within the region, different countries are at different stages of development, from Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems to procedures and airspace designs—some are quite advanced while others are just getting started. With so many varying levels of maturity, coupled with the density of the Asia region, seamless airspace operations that will provide the maximum operational efficiency and safety to airspace users is a challenge to achieve. The priority should be to implement customerfocused services, such as Performance- Based Navigation (PBN). PBN allows for more and different services based on an aircraft’s performance capabilities. In order to implement PBN, which is a mature technology available now, airspace redesign in the region must happen and India is well positioned to lead this region.
What is MITRE’s role in GAGAN?
The MITRE Corporation is serving as the technical advisor for the GAGAN certification. We perform various tasks, such as evaluate monitoring algorithms, participate in Technical Review Team meetings, provide independent review of documents and offer technical support to the Airports Authority of India (AAI), Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). We are also helping the Indian government to develop the master certification plan and conduct operational testing and evaluation.
How challenging was it to work with GAGAN project?
The GAGAN project presents challenges specific to the region. India’s atmospheric environment as a country in an equatorial region is unique and as a result there are a number of characteristics that we’ve not had to deal with on other Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) implementation projects. The other challenge is, of course, time: there is a lot to be done and a limited time in which to do it.
Do you also provide consultancy on non-aviation use of GAGAN?
No. Even though there are many nonaviation uses of the SBAS system, the scope of our contract with regards to GAGAN is limited to aviation. If the GAGAN system can meet the stringent aviation use requirements, it will meet majority of other user requirements.
What other SBAS systems you are/were associated with?
MITRE has supported the development and certification of the Wide-Area Augmentation System (WAAS) in the U.S. and the Multifunctional Transport Satellite (MTSAT) Satellite Augmentation System (MSAS) in Japan. WAAS was the first project of its kind to be commissioned, and we have been involved with it for almost 15 years; we have supported Japan’s MSAS program for over a decade. MITRE is also involved in GPS modernization projects. In addition, we actively participate in forums involved in SBAS interoperability and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standardization.
In the context of users of SBAS, do you think that issues related to privacy and sovereignty will also have to be dealt with?
Yes. SBAS provides services beyond the boundaries of the country (or, in the case of Europe, multi-state organization) that owns and operates the system. So how those services are shared or controlled will depend upon the relationships among the neighbouring countries. States must approve GNSS navigation in their airspace; so any country that is within the footprint of SBAS service would have to approve of its use. However, if they do not control the signal-in-space, they may be hesitant before accepting the liability they would automatically accept when approving the use of this signal-in-space. So, the main issues are sovereignty and liability. The ICAO vision is that all states would approve GNSS-based navigation without restriction regarding the source of the service. Some within ICAO are concerned about the risk that, for political reasons, one or more states might mandate a particular GNSS solution while disapprove the use of another. This could create a difficult situation for airlines because of the potential cost and complexity of carrying different avionics for different airspaces.