NIGCOMSAT, 2 partners, launch satellite technology to accelerate African aviation

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By Olasunkanmi Onifade

Abuja, Jan. 28, 2021 The Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd (NIGCOMSAT), in collaboration with its partners have launched NigComSat-1R, the first Satellite -Based Augmentation System (SBAS) signal over Africa and the Indian Ocean that would help accelerate African aviation.

NIGCOMSAT Ltd, along with Thales Alenia and ASECNA, the other partners, first started the broadcast of a SBAS signals over Africa and the Indian Ocean in September 2020, and they conducted five demos at Lome International airport for the first launch of the SBAS.

A statement by General Manager, Corporate Affairs Department of NIGCOMSAT Ltd, Mr Adamu Idris, issued in Abuja, quoted SBAS Manager, Mr Lasisi Lawal, as saying that the goal was to showcase the real configuration of the efficiency of the technology, developed in the frame of the early open service as part of the ‘SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean’.

He said the program was to pursue the autonomous provision over the continent, of SBAS services to augment the performance of the satellite navigation constellations GPS and Galileo.

These tests were carried out by the ASECNA calibration aircraft (ATR42-300), which had been equipped for the occasion by Pildo Labs, with specific sensors and embarked on by VIPs and Pilots from ASKY, the Pan African airline based in Togo, Air Cote D’ Ivoire in five rotations over Lome airport.

Lawal also said that the aim of the experiment was to demonstrate the ability of the system to allow landing on the two ends of the runway without deployment of local infrastructure with a performance level to the use of Instrument Landing System (ILS).

He said it also demonstrated the benefits of the future operational safety, efficiency and environmental protection.

Lawal said the outcomes of the demonstrations was a crucial step towards the provision and use of satellite navigation services in the Africa and Indian Ocean region.

“The demos would also be debriefed during the international outreach event on SBAS in aviation in Africa, which brings together airlines, aircraft manufacturers and other aviation stakeholders, from all over the world, precisely at the end of the month.

The Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer, NIGCOMSAT Ltd, Abimbola Alale, said he was proud to support the SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean Open Service for Africa as well as contributing to the success of these inflight demos, using our geostationary communication satellite, NigComSat-1R navigation payload.

“The achievement is in line with the policy directions of the Hon Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, for value propensity not only in the communications sector, but other sectors like maritime, rail, transport, precision, agriculture, survey, oil and gas, and mass market applications, for sustainable development beyond Nigeria’s shores”.

The Vice President, Navigation business, at Thales Alenia Space, Benoit Broudy, said the longstanding expertise acquired with the development of EGNOS’ SBAS in Europe, and KASS SBAS in Korea, combined with new leading-edge satellite positioning technologies makes Thales Alenia Space, the ideal partner to best support countries to implement their own SBAS efficiently.

“We hope these series of demos will help to accelerate SBAS adoption in aviation in Africa”.

The Director-General of ASECNA, Mohamed Moussa, said: “I am proud to have demonstrated the utility and efficiency of the SBAS services in the continent”, adding that the event would bolster the deployment of the “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” system, as the navigation solution for Africa by Africa.

Moussa said it also would enhance air navigation safety and efficiency for the benefit of the whole continent, in line with his vision for the unification of the African Sky.

Naija247news reports that SBAS is a civil aviation safety-critical system that supports wide-area, even continental scale positioning through the use of geostationary (GEO) satellites which broadcast the augmentation information.

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