News Update

Galileo, now fit for aviation

Mar 2024 | No Comment

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. 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, especially for critical stages such as final approaches, navigation systems need to be extremely reliable. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines the strict requirements that systems need to fulfil to be used in these so-called Safety-of-Life operations, where a malfunction of the system would lead to major human or environmental catastrophes.

Galileo was never designed to comply with these rigorous integrity standards as Europe already had EGNOS, a dedicated Safety-of-Life system for navigation. EGNOS ‘augments’ GPS signals for critical operations in aviation, maritime navigation, agriculture and more. But in 2016, ESA joined forces with the European Commission (EC) and the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) to elevate Galileo’s reliability and make it fit for civil aviation, as a standalone support system during en route and augmented by EGNOS at take-off and landing.

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