Galileo Satellites Locate Aircraft by GPS

 - January 6, 2014, 2:45 PM

The European Space Agency’s Galileo satellites recently achieved their first successful in-flight tracking of a test machine using aircraft-generated longitude, latitude and altitude. A pair of Galileo test receivers was used aboard the aircraft, the same kind currently employed for Galileo field-testing.

The evaluations were scheduled during periods in November when all four Galileo satellites were visible in the sky. Positioning fixes require at least four satellites. The receivers fixed the airplane’s position and determined key variables such as the position, velocity and timing accuracy, time to first fix, signal-t- noise ratio, range error and range-rate error. Test flights were also conducted during takeoff, straight-and-level flight at a constant speed, circling maneuvers, straight-and-level flight with alternating speeds, turns with a maximum bank angle of 60 degrees, pull-ups and push-overs, as well as approaches and landings.

The satellites also allowed positioning to be carried out at speeds up to 245 knots.

The test took place over the Gilze-Rijen Air Force Base in the Netherlands and was overseen by the ESA, the National Aerospace Laboratory of the Netherlands with the support of Eurocontrol, the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, and Dutch air navigation service provider LVNL.