Hyderabad: Space-based navigation emerged as the forerunner in providing position, velocity and timing services with the advent of various global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). India took the early initiative and realised its own SBAS called GAGAN (GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation over the Indian region.
The system was developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Airports Authority of India (AAI). A KPMG study that made the cost-benefit analysis in aviation found out that fuel savings and operational efficiencies will result in savings valued at upwards of Rs 1,000 crore. Regional airports in the country can be one of the major beneficiaries as it will improve operational efficiency.
Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) that improve the quality provided by GNSS are expected to replace ground-based navigation systems and allow for more efficient use of available airspace. The benefits will be visible from 2025 onwards. Airlines in the country that are procuring aircraft are making the requisition to the aircraft manufacturers to enable SBAS and for software that can receive messages and alerts.
Boeing and Airbus are looking at timelines to comply around 2018-end or latest by 2020 in the US. India being an aggressive procurer of aircraft will make these aircraft makers comply to the country’s needs even before.
V K Satish, Lead, GAGAN Programme, Airports Authority of India (AAI), told Telangana Today, “By adopting GAGAN for aviation, flight delays, diversions and cancellations (DDC) will be minimised. AAI has come out with a generic format that helps in disseminating information and sending messages to all the stakeholders.”
All the master control centres that were to be set up under GAGAN are in place along with three satellites. Reference centres had been connected, integrated and are functioning. Though the entire infrastructure needed only two master control centres and satellites, additional infrastructure has been created to be foolproof. There is a plan to consistently upgrade the systems.
Satish adds, “We are looking at flight procedure designs with the vertical guidance and about 40-50 procedures will be followed in the airports by the end of this calendar year. After the procedure level is crossed, then testing in airlines will begin. We also want to try them out in the regional airports. The system will significant improve landings and take offs at 1,500-2,000 m distance. ”
It has become a priority for Aviation Ministries, airport operators and airlines to maintain high safety of their passengers and bring down the accident rates, globally.
A S Ganeshan, Advisor, GAGAN Programme, “India has become the third country in the world to have APV-1 precision approach capabilities and the first SBAS system in the world to serve the equatorial region. The nation is the fourth in the world to implement as SBAS system for civil air navigation after WAAS, EGNOS and MSAS. The GAGAN system is interoperable with other SBA systems and will offer seamless navigation in the region bridging the gap between Europe and Japan. In addition to aviation, we are seeing the potential to use it in disaster management by giving early warnings in affected areas.”
The system will be able to give forecasts of cyclones, storms, Tsunami, avalanche and oceanic changes in addition to giving alerts to pilgrims visiting places such as Amarnath Yatra.
He added, “The needed infrastructure including creation of number of reference stations has been done as part of the programme by investing about Rs 800 crore so far.”
Today most of the mobiles are SBAS enabled. Users will just have to make small software changes to use it. Under GAGAN programme, there are plans to create apps for individual agencies that tackle disaster management. For proof of concept and release of the messaging system, talks are on with original equipment manufacturers. It will take a month’s time to get this done. Discussion will also begin with app developers soon.
Besides disaster management, the system is also useful in the transportation (railways and cab services) and smart cities space. India is expecting more participation from public and private institutions by 2019.