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ASECNA launches study to supply satellite navigation services in Africa

February 8, 2019

 The Agency for the Safety of Air Navigation in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) signed a contract with Thales Alenia Space, the joint company between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), on February 8 in Dakar to conduct a preliminary design study (phase B) for its program to develop a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS). ASECNA’s SBAS is based on EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service). In line with the agency’s strategic plan, it aims to enhance navigation and surveillance operations during all flight phases, as well as significantly and sustainably improve flight safety and efficiency in the areas under its responsibility.

Starting in 2021-22, these services will improve the positioning performance of existing satellite navigation systems, such as GPS or Galileo. The new system will improve precision, down to within a meter, integrity, availability and continuity, guaranteed for safety-related applications. Other business sectors, including maritime, rail and road transport, as well as agriculture, could benefit from these services, which will help drive economic and social development.

The phase B study should enable countries belonging to ASECNA to define the best system architecture to support the delivery of SBAS services, and to ensure transparency during the following development, deployment and operational phases. The study is being financed by a grant from the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (EU-AITF), through a financing agreement with the French Development Agency (AFD). The European Commission and GSA (European GNSS Agency) will provide technical assistance as part of an international agreement between ASECNA and the European Union, also including the French space agency CNES (Centre National des Etudes Spatiales).

The design study to be carried out by Thales Alenia Space will last for 18 months. During this period, the airlines associated with this program will be able to test a pre-operational service. “Today’s contract signature marks the culmination of ASECNA and Thales Alenia Space’s work on SBAS over the last few years, and we are very pleased” said Jean Loïc Galle, President and CEO of Thales Alenia Space. “Following the KASS project in South Korea, this latest export success for a complex and powerful satellite navigation system is the result of our involvement in satnav programs in Europe right from the outset, in 1996. ASECNA will be able to draw on our 20 plus years of experience to ensure passenger safety, clearly reflecting our watchword, ‘Space for Life’.”

Mohamed Moussa, Director General of ASECNA, said: “This contract marks a milestone in ASECNA’s SBAS program, a key catalyzer for Africa’s ‘Single Sky’, which should eventually enable us to improve landing safety and routing flexibility and efficiency, while making isolated regions more accessible without requiring any additional technical and human resources at airports. It also illustrates our progress and shows ASECNA’s ability to embrace and apply the latest innovative technologies, for the greater benefit of inclusive economic and social development in Africa.”