The European Commission has announced the beginning of operations for the European geostationary navigation overlay service (EGNOS).

EGNOS is a satellite-based augmentation system that improves the accuracy of satellite navigation signals over Europe.

It is the first pan-European navigation satellite system, developed as a joint project by the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Commission (EC) and EUROCONTROL, the European organisation for the safety of air navigation.

The system comprises transponders aboard three geostationary satellites over the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Europe linked to a network of about 40 ground stations and four control centres.

The primary service is available to all users equipped with EGNOS-compatible receivers, which cover the majority of mass-market satellite navigation receivers.

The EGNOS ground stations receive signals sent out by the US GPS satellites and help users to determine their position to within 2m, compared to about 20m for GPS alone.

The EC and European satellite services provider (ESSP SaS) has signed a contract to provide for the management and maintenance of EGNOS operations to the end of 2013.