We now definitively declare “curtain up!” on the second act of the human and technological drama, Interoperable Global Navigation Satellite Systems, by many authors, directors, and actors, upon the global stage. It happened on August 2 with removal of the message 0 (“Do Not Use in aviation”), by the European Satellite Services Provider, from the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) signal. It enables EGNOS use for en-route and lateral guidance approaches.
The first act of our drama, of course, saw the U.S. GPS achieve operational capability, not to mention enthusiastic worldwide reception and application. We might have declared the second act open upon GLONASS operability, intermittent though that has been — but GLONASS is not (yet) interoperable with GPS. We might have marked its beginning in 2003, when the European Council of Transport Ministers approved the Galileo program, or in 2006, when Galileo launched its first satellite and broadcast its first signal in space. But no useable navigation message has yet emanated.
The EGNOS signal is essentially a corrected GPS signal. Still, its certification for use in aviation embodies an international, interoperable navigation signal from space.
(Legalistic note: “After an operational period of three months [following August 2], the EC will declare the Safety of life (SoL) service available to the aviation community, enabling the publication of precision approach procedures with vertical and lateral navigation guidance (APV) based on EGNOS. At that time, European air navigation service providers will be in position to implement satellite-based precision approaches . . . .)
Chairman Mao said “The march of 10,000 li begins with a single step.” We have taken more than a few steps, though still at the beginning of our journey. Curtain’s up, vistas are wide. Let’s keep moving.