ATM Modernization

Eurocontrol CONOPS for Next Generation GNSS Awaits Stakeholder Feedback

By S.L. Fuller | April 11, 2017

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Eurocontrol’s initial version of the concept of operations (CONOPS) for use of the next-generation global navigation satellite system (GNSS) in aviation is currently being distributed to stakeholders, Eurocontrol said. The CONCOPs was contained in a working paper presented by Eurocontrol last December and adopted by the International Civil Aviation Org. (ICAO)'s navigation system panel.

The next step in the process is to coordinate inputs, working in partnership with EASA, the European GNSS Agency (GSA), the European Space Agency, the European Commission, service providers, industry, users and others. The Single European Sky ATM Research 2020 contains a task to further develop European contributions to the CONOPS. Integrations of these inputs would yield a new version, which would be adopted by the ICAO's panel this October.

Eurocontrol said it plans to present the CONOPS at the ICAO Global Air Navigation Industry Symposium in December. It also said an ICAO secretariat paper on the subject should be tabled at the 13th Air Navigation Conference in 2018.

Behind the CONOPS efforts lies the desire to move from the single-frequency service offered by GPS, to the dual-frequency service provided by the next-generation GNSS. That solution would use a modernized GPS as well as other constellations like Russia’s GLONASS, Galileo (currently under development by Europe) and DBS (currently under development by China). Eurocontrol said the dual-frequency multi-constellation capability would provide enhanced performance.

Fulfilling that desire requires introducing the new GNSS to air traffic management in a cost-efficient way. Eurocontrol said operational benefits, technical challenges, operational challenges, political challenges and institutional challenges will all need to be addressed. The CONOPS would also need to address conflicting international interests.

“The United States, Europe, China and Russia want their systems to be used by aviation. ICAO States have to publish which GNSS element can be used in their airspace,” Eurocontrol said. “On the one hand, the requirements from States and the need to process more GNSS signals imply more complex avionics, but on the other hand, airlines and industry want to transition to the next generation GNSS with minimum impact in terms of additional costs and complexity.”

The CONOPS includes a preliminary, high-level implementation timeline covering GNSS system developments, standardization, receivers’ certification, approval of the use of GNSS elements by states and operational implementation in air traffic management. The next-generation GNSS could be operationally introduced between 2025 and 2028.

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