The European aerospace industry will be able to use a more accurate satellite system by 2010, according to European Commission (EC) representatives.

European geostationary navigation overlay service (EGNOS) is the first stage in the European Union’s bid for an independent global navigation satellite system (GNSS) and is set to feedback better quality data than the US and Russian systems in operation today.

European Commission director of maritime transport Galileo and intelligent transport systems Fortis Karamitos says that EGNOS will formally enter into operations in April 2009 and be ready for aviation operations a year later.

“EGNOS is already broadcasting signals and they are of excellent quality,” he says.

The completion of EGNOS is the next step in the formation of Galileo, the European Commission’s project to build a civilian-controlled, open access GNSS that will end European reliance on US and Russian technology.

At present, EGNOS covers the majority of Europe – with the exception of Greece – but coverage is to be extended to Africa and the Middle East.

Despite a recent reduction in the volume of air travel due to the financial downturn, long-term projections are that passenger numbers will continue to rise.

LEK Consulting managing director Giovanni Calia, who has been employed by the EC to assess Galileo’s downstream market potential, says that the take-up of EU GNSS technology in the aviation industry is inevitable.

“It is estimated that from 2012 all new commercial aircraft will be fitted with dual US GPS and European Galileo technology,” he says.

Calia estimated that the biggest market for Galileo technology will be in location-based services such as telecoms, second to that is the road traffic industry which he estimated will gross €50bn, with the aviation industry coming in third.

By Natalie Coomber.