Earlier in November, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) approved new Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) paving the way for the development of new Dual Frequency Multi-Constellation Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (DFMC SBAS).

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The ICAO SARPs are technical specifications that constitute the basis for harmonized global aviation safety and efficiency in the air and on the ground. While not legally binding for ICAO Member States, SARPs help standardize functional and performance requirements of air navigation facilities and services and ensure the orderly development of air transport.

Based on analyses, simulations and tests carried out by various organizations around the world, the SARPs on the use and development of DFMC SBAS were validated and approved by the Navigation Systems Panel of the ICAO earlier in November.

"The approval of SARPs is a milestone for EGNOS and Galileo but also for European aviation. Dual Frequency Multi-constellation SBAS will become a key enabler in aviation and provide improved availability, continuity, and accuracy by correcting two frequencies from more than one constellation" says GSA’s Executive Director, Rodrigo da Costa.

"We’re also very proud to have contributed to the standardization, by initiating projects EDG²E  and MUGG aimed at prototyping GPS and Galileo SBAS receivers, and already driving the EGNOS programme on its way to implement this new DFMC SBAS standard through the development of EGNOS V3." confirmed Jean-Marc Pieplu, Head of the EGNOS Services Department at the GSA.

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DFMC SBAS & aviation: opening up new possibilities for air transportation

With multi-constellation becoming the norm, the GNSS industry is now witnessing a shift towards the adoption of multi-frequency. Four of the global SBAS plan to upgrade their services to support multiple frequency bands and multiple constellations in the years to come.

While the current SBASs can only correct GPS and GLONASS signals, the DFMC SBAS concept will enable signal corrections from multiple GNSS constellations and will have the ability to capture signals from 92 satellites simultaneously.

DMFC SBASs will also enable the use of non-Geostationary satellites for sending signal corrections. In the case of EGNOS, the potential use of satellites in Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) can allow for better coverage in northern latitudes, increased availability for EGNOS supported approaches and thus more accessible European airports. 

While avionics will continue to benefit from the L1 frequency, the additional L5 frequency will provide robustness against radiofrequency interference on L1 or L5 frequencies. What is more, using dual frequencies equals more resilience to ionospheric disturbances caused by magnetic storms but also robustness against spoofing or jamming.

Augmenting more than one constellation provides also an extra layer of navigation safety for airlines in case one GNSS constellation is degraded or becomes unavailable.

For more information on the current performance and evolution of EGNOS, the European SBAS, register for the EGNOS Service Status Session taking place on 8 December at 14:00 CET during the European Space Week 2020.

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