Egis Avia to Study Impact of Solar Activities on GNSS-Based Aviation Applications

GNSS operations from the en-route to the approach and landing are going to be widely implemented over Europe in the coming years. Taking into account upcoming high solar activity, there is a need for EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, to study ionosphere effects on global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) applications in order to plan mitigation measures in the context of future GNSS-based aviation applications.

Egis was awarded a contract with EUROCONTROL for this purpose and a team within Egis Avia subsidiary will conduct the study over the ECAC area (Europe) in partnership with the French Air Navigation Service Provider (DSNA), the French Space Agency (CNES), the Civil Aviation University (ENAC) as well as CLS and M3 Systems companies.

Variations in the solar activity and space weather significantly affect the propagation of electromagnetic signals in the upper layers of the atmosphere or ionosphere. The specific characterisation of the ionosphere effects over the ECAC area, the linkage between solar weather observables and ionosphere disturbances as well as their impact on aviation applications are to be better investigated in the context of a future multi-signal and multi-constellation environment.

Civil aviation operations will be increasingly dependent on the use of GNSS in Europe for navigation or surveillance purposes. It is therefore necessary to understand these interactions. The objectives are at first to assess the impact of ionosphere on GNSS based applications for different phases of flight; then, to develop and validate mitigation techniques in order to ensure and maintain the safety and performance requirements for aviation operations.

In a first step, this project provides a preliminary analysis and guidance material in order to:

  • Define a set of options for the monitoring and characterisation of ionosphere impact on aviation operation during the next peak of solar activity and collect GNSS data impacted by the ionosphere
  • use these data to develop a model of the ionosphere impact on an aeronautical receiver over the ECAC area as well as adequate mitigation actions to complete the ionosphere effect analysis on civil aviation operations

A second step will consist in undertaking the proposed work and thus develop, validate and assess performance of mitigation actions for the different operations impacted.

This initiative will extend other studies previously started by some European countries. It will allow the development of a genuine ionosphere model suitable for aviation operational needs.

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