Helileo (Hall 4 Stand E66), a Galileo test bed and expert company located in Aerospace Valley of southwest France, is offering flight testing services to manufacturers of GPS, EGNOS and Galileo receivers. Under an original program, the French start-up company plans to have one engineer testing hardware during French Army pilot training flights operated by Helidax, a private venture, with Eurocopter EC 120 helicopters.
European Space Agency
How times change. In the 1990s, the Departments of State and Commerce, backed by the Department of Defense and the GPS industry, were busy persuading foreign nations that with GPS available to everyone worldwide, they shouldn’t waste their money launching their own satnav systems. But the genie got out of the bottle anyway.
Last year was a challenging time for Galileo, Europe’s fledgling global navigation satellite system (GNSS). It started with the collapse of the private consortium established to build the system and culminated in European Union transport ministers making a “do or die” decision to allow the European Commission (EC) to manage the project in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA).
The FAA’s original plan to transition to sole-means GPS is no longer practical and some form of backup will be required for the foreseeable future, according to speakers at a recent Navigation Industry Day. This event was sponsored by the DOT, FAA and Civil Aviation Advanced Systems Development (CAASD), which is a component of the federally-funded MITRE research and development center and a key FAA think-tank resource.
Speakers from Eurocontrol and the European Space Agency last month informed attendees at a meeting of the FAA’s Satellite Operational Implementation Team (SOIT) that their organizations would accept liability for system failures when the Galileo satnav system was used in critical applications requiring high-accuracy guidance, such as approach and landing operations.
While EGNOS, SBAS, GBAS and Galileo may be unfamiliar to most North American aviators, they are key elements in Europe’s determined move to a satellite air traffic control environment. Addressing the FAA’s satellite operations implementation team meeting in December, Eurocontrol officials reported on progress toward their vision of
Last year in Toulouse, France, Eurocopter completed two series of tests that demonstrated the feasibility of satellite-navigation precision approaches for helicopters. Europe, which lags behind the U.S. in creating satnav nonprecision approaches for helicopters, has almost completed some research toward addressing that imbalance.
It took several years for the U.S. and the European Union to reach agreement about satellite navigation systems, but the cooperation agreement the parties signed in June that paves the way for the Galileo and GPS satellite navigation systems should be beneficial to both sides, and to aviation worldwide.
This summer a Eurocopter EC 155 all-weather demonstrator performed satellite-guided precision approach tests in Lausanne, Switzerland, as part of a research program aimed at developing approach and departure IFR procedures suited to helicopters using the European geostationary navigation overlay service (egnos) Skyguide, the Swiss air navigation service provider, coordinated the program. Swiss medical air rescue agency Rega was also involved.
The European Space Agency (ESA) recently launched the early development phase of the Single European Sky Iris program, a research initiative designed to improve air traffic management through satellite-based air-to-ground communication links. If the ESA Council approves the early development proposals next year, system development will begin in mid-2009.