ASECNA provides Africa’s first early SBAS Open Service based on the European EGNOS technology

Earlier in September 2020, the Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) started broadcasting a Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) signal over Africa and the Indian Ocean. This marks the first SBAS open service in the region, modeled based on the European EGNOS.

The ASECNA SBAS was developed as part of the ‘’SBAS for Africa & Indian Ocean’’ programme as a first step towards providing robust navigation services in the aviation sector. During this first stage of development, the ASECNA SBAS open service is working in test-mode in order to carry out signal tests and other technical trials. This ‘’test phase’’ will enable ASECNA to perform demonstrations for aircrafts and rotorcrafts in order to showcase the benefits of the future Safety-of-Life services. 

A SBAS based on EU Space technology 

Just like EGNOS, the ASECNA SBAS relies on a range of ground sensors, currently based on the SAGAIE network, collecting data from the GPS satellites signals which are centrally processed to determine corrections and integrity messages according to the international SBAS standards. These messages are then incorporated into the ASECNA SBAS signal which is further broadcasted by a SBAS payload onboard the NigComSat 1R GEO, a Nigerian geostationary satellite.  Receivers will then be able to process this signal to improve the accuracy and ensure the integrity of the position over the service area.

The “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” is based on the technology developed for EGNOS, the EU SBAS, managed by the European GNSS Agency (GSA) on behalf of the European Commission. Since 2015, the GSA and its EGNOS team have been closely co-operating with ASECNA to provide programmatic advice, EGNOS data, lessons learnt and technical expertise, contributing to the system preliminary definition phase and to the deployment of this initial signal. The ASECNA SBAS signal will be visible in the whole of Africa and Indian Ocean, up to the West Australian coast, and also in Europe.

“We are pleased to be contributing to the development of SBAS technology in Africa and to put the knowhow of the GSA and the unique capability of our  European EGNOS at the service of a safer and more efficient aviation.’’ said Rodrigo da Costa, GSA Executive Director.

“The provision of the first African SBAS early service is a crucial major step forward in the development of satellite navigation in the AFI Region, the navigation solution for Africa by Africa. It demonstrates the ambition and commitment of ASECNA to enhance air navigation safety for the benefit of the whole continent, in line with my vision for the unification of the African Sky” stated Mohamed Moussa, Director General of ASECNA.

SBAS: a safe, sustainable, and cost-efficient solution for aviation

SBAS is becoming the favorite technology for both airlines and airports across the globe. In Europe only, more than 350 airports use EGNOS and the trend is on the rise. The provision of EGNOS-type services is beneficial to Africa as it will provide signal coverage in areas currently not equipped with the conventional navigation aids, notably increasing aviation safety and airport accessibility especially in remote regions. Accessible airports equal more commercial opportunities for airlines and new flight routes at a regional and international level, with minimum costs for ground infrastructure and its maintenance. 

Just like EGNOS, the future evolution of ASECNA SBAS will guarantee safer approaches for the crew and the passengers, while lowering the percentage of go-arounds caused by challenging weather conditions. As more and more SBASs switch to multi-constellation/multifrequency (notably benefiting from Galileo), the SBAS services offer greater availability to users while guaranteeing integrity to comply with aviation stringent regulations. 

Source: GSA website

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