Tue. Feb 27th, 2024
Viasat Demonstrates Groundbreaking Satellite Navigation Signal for UK Post-Brexit

Viasat, a leading operator in satellite communications, recently achieved a remarkable milestone by successfully demonstrating a satellite navigation signal on an airplane. This groundbreaking development could potentially assist the United Kingdom in replacing the capabilities it lost after leaving the European Union. By utilizing the positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) overlay signal from Viasat’s I-3 F5 satellite, a Saab 340B turboprop plane improved GPS accuracy during an extensive test flight over Cranfield, England.

Viasat’s Vice President of Strategic Programs and Partnerships, Gary Lay, expressed great satisfaction with the test results, stating that they met expectations and affirmed the success of the endeavor. Notably, the test included four separate runway approaches, highlighting the reliability and versatility of the satellite navigation signal.

While specific performance details remain undisclosed, these tests aimed to demonstrate the potential of the repurposed I-3 F5 transponder to significantly enhance positioning accuracy, bridging the gap between standard GPS measurements in meters to a few centimeters. This enhanced precision holds immense value for aviation, enabling high-precision landing approaches even in adverse weather conditions when pilots may face limited visibility.

Following Brexit, the United Kingdom lost access to the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) for safety-related applications. This loss affected 19 airports across the country that previously relied on EGNOS procedures. Alarmingly, nearly 40% of cancelled flights by a regional operator could have proceeded with the presence of a sovereign alternative.

In response to this challenge, Viasat is spearheading a collaborative effort among local companies to develop a UK Space-Based Augmentation System (UKSBAS). The British government is providing crucial funding to support this initiative. Moreover, the success achieved in aviation tests opens up opportunities for the UKSBAS to impact other sectors such as rail, uncrewed aerial vehicles, and autonomous road vehicles.

Viasat has also made plans for future expansion by placing orders for three small satellites, scheduled for launch in 2027. These satellites will feature navigation transponders to ensure continuity in the service after the I-3 F5 satellite exhausts its fuel. Furthermore, Viasat has secured a government contract worth approximately $123 million to develop a similar GPS overlay system called the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) for Australia and New Zealand.

In conclusion, Viasat’s successful demonstration of a satellite navigation signal marks a significant advancement for the United Kingdom in replacing its lost capabilities post-Brexit. This breakthrough technology not only ensures greater accuracy in aviation but also paves the way for innovation and progress across multiple industries. With the ongoing development of the UKSBAS and future satellite launches, the future of satellite navigation looks promising, providing the country with a robust system for years to come.

An FAQ section based on the main topics and information presented in the article:

1. What is the milestone achieved by Viasat in satellite communications?
Viasat successfully demonstrated a satellite navigation signal on an airplane, which could potentially assist the United Kingdom in replacing the capabilities it lost after leaving the European Union.

2. How did Viasat achieve this milestone?
Viasat utilized the positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) overlay signal from its I-3 F5 satellite to improve GPS accuracy on a Saab 340B turboprop plane during a test flight over Cranfield, England.

3. Who expressed satisfaction with the test results?
Gary Lay, Vice President of Strategic Programs and Partnerships at Viasat, expressed great satisfaction with the test results, stating that they met expectations and affirmed the success of the endeavor.

4. What is the potential benefit of this technology in aviation?
The use of Viasat’s satellite navigation signal can significantly enhance positioning accuracy, enabling high-precision landing approaches even in adverse weather conditions when pilots may face limited visibility.

5. What capability did the United Kingdom lose after Brexit?
After Brexit, the United Kingdom lost access to the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) for safety-related applications, affecting 19 airports across the country that previously relied on EGNOS procedures.

6. What is Viasat doing to address this challenge?
Viasat is spearheading a collaborative effort among local companies to develop a UK Space-Based Augmentation System (UKSBAS) with the support of crucial funding from the British government. This system aims to provide a sovereign alternative to the lost capabilities.

7. Apart from aviation, which other sectors can be impacted by the UKSBAS?
The success achieved in aviation tests opens up opportunities for the UKSBAS to impact other sectors such as rail, uncrewed aerial vehicles, and autonomous road vehicles.

8. What are Viasat’s plans for future expansion?
Viasat has placed orders for three small satellites, scheduled for launch in 2027, to ensure continuity in the service after the I-3 F5 satellite exhausts its fuel. Additionally, Viasat has secured a government contract worth approximately $123 million to develop a similar GPS overlay system called the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) for Australia and New Zealand.

Definitions:
– PNT: Positioning, Navigation, and Timing.
– GPS: Global Positioning System.
– EGNOS: European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service.
– UKSBAS: UK Space-Based Augmentation System.
– SouthPAN: Southern Positioning Augmentation Network.

Suggested related links:
Viasat
Saab
Cranfield University
British Government