February 25, 2024

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Geoscience Australia conducts aviation trial on satellite-based augmentation system

Geoscience Australia conducts aviation trial on satellite-based augmentation system

According to a recent
press release
, a new satellite positioning technology currently being
trialled by Geoscience
to improve aviation safety and efficiency. The aviation trial is
one of 25 currently being run across the country.

The  Satellite-Based
Augmentation System (SBAS) project  is led by Airservices Australia on behalf of the aviation industry.
Under the project, Airservices Australia is fitting SBAS technology into
aircraft and testing it across regional Australia.

SBAS utilises space-based and ground-based infrastructure to
improve the accuracy, integrity and availability of basic Global Navigation
Satellite System (GNSS) signals, such as those currently provided by the Global
Positioning System (GPS). SBAS already developed internationally
include WAAS in
the United States and EGNOS in

Airservices Australia will receive up to A$310 000 in
funding from the Australian and New Zealand governments to trial the technology.

The aviation component of the trial will test two
technologies: the first and second generation SBAS. SBAS technology provides
accurate guidance for landing procedures at regional aerodromes where ground
infrastructure may not be as advanced as that used at larger airports.

An operational SBAS would improve safety, by guiding pilots
with greater accuracy, especially those flying into regional aerodromes
operating under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).

Geoscience Australia's SBAS project manager Dr John Dawson
explained that SBAS-assisted aircraft approaches are eight times safer than
those that use ground-based navigation aids.

"This could mean a pilot can now attempt a landing
without visuals down to 200 feet," he said

According to Dr Dawson, the safety and efficiency benefits
this technology provides will result in fewer flights being cancelled or
diverted, and can also reduce the number of landing attempts flights may need
to make during poor weather.

This will be of particular benefit to services like the
Royal Flying Doctor Service, which provides emergency medical transport and
primary health care to rural and remote Australia. Such operation often needs
to undertake landings in varying weather conditions and at small, remote
airfields and other locations where infrastructure and technology is limited.

The broader two-year SBAS trial program includes projects in
the agriculture, construction, consumer and utilities, resources, spatial and
transport industries. It is being funded with A$12 million from the Australian
Government and a further A$2 million from the New Zealand Government.

As reported
, Geoscience
 is working with the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial
Information on a test-bed project for SBAS. The project is funded through the
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and Department of
Infrastructure and Regional Development.

Through this project, Australia joins USA, Europe, Russia,
India and Japan, as countries who have invested in infrastructure that delivers
satellite-based corrections via an SBAS.

SBAS is expected to overcome the current gaps in mobile and
radio communications and can improve positioning accuracy in Australia to less
than 5 centimetres from the current accuracy of 5 to 10 metres.

In November
last year
, the Australian Government launched the world’s first national
trial for the integration of Precise Point Positioning corrections into a SBAS
service The SBAS trial is being managed by Geoscience Australia in
partnership with the global technology companies GMV, Inmarsat and Lockheed

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan,
Geoscience Australia CEO James Johnson, and Airservices Australia CEO Jason
Harfield, recently hosted an event at Canberra International Airport to
demonstrate the technology to representatives from the aviation industry and

Aircraft used for the demonstration included the
Toll Air Ambulance which is used for patient rescue, retrieval and treatment in
communities in New South Wales and the ACT, and a plane used by the Royal
Flying Doctor Service.


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