Under a new partnership, QinetiQ and Rockwell Collins will develop next generation multi-constellation Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receivers. Both companies see the new partnership developing a family of GNSS receivers for “military, government and professional users,” according to Rockwell Collins.
QinetiQ CEO Steve Wadey said development of multi constellation satellite receivers by the two companies will be centered in Europe, but focused on supporting global demand for the technology. QinetiQ is traditionally known as a supplier of evaluation, test and training support services to the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense (MOD), though Wadey, who took over as chief executive two years ago, has a goal of expanding QinetiQ's global presence. Some of that expansion will driven by the new partnership with one of the world’s largest avionics manufacturers in Rockwell Collins.
“As we move into the era of multi-constellation satellite receivers, this market-leading agreement and the investments of both companies sends a clear message to our customers and shareholders that QinetiQ and Rockwell Collins are taking every step necessary to stay at the forefront of GNSS technical development,” said Wadey, in a statement released by Rockwell Collins.
The new partnership will focus on developing a family of multi constellation "open service" GNSS receivers, according to statement released by QinetiQ. Based on the high level overview they have provided, the two companies are collectively looking to provide military and government aircraft operators with the ability to use and switch between use of existing and future GNSS constellations.
The FAA describes GNSS as a global position, navigation and time determination system enabled by satellite constellations, aircraft receivers and system integrity monitoring “augmented as necessary to support the required navigation performance for the intended operation.” Currently, two satellite constellations support GNSS operations; GPS in the U.S. and the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) in Russia.
In January, Europe’s Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) also announced its own GNSS system, Galileo, achieved initial operational status in December 2016. Current Galileo-enabled chipsets and receivers are available in the automotive, consumer, agriculture and surveying sectors, however the agency has not yet said when Galileo will be available to support location-based operations for aircraft.
The world’s other GNSS constellation, China’s Beidou satellites, are expected to form a complete GNSS system by 2020, according to the latest released information about the system from Chinese state run media outlets.
The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) GNSS manual, first published in 2012, notes that states authorizing GNSS operations must determine if their GNSS constellation meets their Annex 10 “Aeronautical Telecommunications” performance requirements. GNSS receivers feature an antennas and processors for computing position, time and other information based on the intended application. Measurements from a minimum of four satellites are required to establish three-dimensional position and time, and the receiver’s accuracy depends on the precision of the measurements from the satellites and the relative positions of the satellites being used, the manual says.
Outside of aircraft GNSS development, QinetiQ and Rockwell Collins will also look to develop GNSS receivers designed to “reduce operational costs for ground troops, vehicles and high-dynamics GNSS-guided weapons.”
“This alliance agreement with QinetiQ is a great opportunity to bring together our strengths,” said Colin Mahoney, SVP of International and Service Solutions for Rockwell Collins.