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Thales Alenia Space supports SBAS aviation development in African aviation in flight demonstrations

The Augmented Navigation for Africa (ANGA) programme, and the Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd, NIGCOMSAT, in conjunction with the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and Thales Alenia Space, joint venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), joint efforts to accelerate SBAS development for aviation in Africa.

Following the broadcast of a SBAS (Satellite-Based Augmentation System) signal over Africa & Indian Ocean (AFI) region since September 2020, providing the first SBAS open service in this part of the world via the NIGCOMSAT-1R geostationary satellite, the partners have successfully conducted on 1st February 2023 a series of flight demos at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja. The goal was to show on the field the efficiency of the satellite navigation technology developed by the ANGA programme initiated by the Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) and which pursues the autonomous provision over the continent of SBAS services, to augment the performances of the GPS constellation.

These tests were carried out by means of NAMA calibration aircraft (Beechcraft KingAir 350i), which has been equipped for the occasion by Pildo Labs with specific sensors and embarked VIPs and pilots in 2 rotations over Abuja airport. The aim of the experiment was to demonstrate the ability of the system to allow precision approaches landings on the two ends of the runway without deployment of local ground infrastructure and with a performance level close to the use of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS). It demonstrates the benefits of the future operational safety-of-life SBAS services, expected from 2025, in terms of flight safety and efficiency, and of environmental protection.

The outcomes of the demonstrations, as a crucial step forward the provision and use of satellite navigation services in the Africa and Indian Ocean region, will be debriefed on 2 and 3 February 2023 during an international outreach event on SBAS in aviation in Africa, gathering airlines, aircraft manufacturers and other aviation stakeholders from all over the world.

“Today, I am particularly elated that NIGCOMSAT Limited in conjunction with Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), The Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), SatNav Africa Joint Program Office (JPO), and the Augmented Navigation for Africa (ANGA) jointly organized the 2nd SBAS flight demonstration and outreach event for stakeholders in view of SBAS adoption in Africa’s aviation sector. The synergy and collaboration that have been displayed by these agencies, in terms of intellectual and human resource is highly commendable. This is first of its kind in Nigeria and indeed in Anglophone Africa,” declared Engr. Tukur M. LAWAL, FNSChE, FECRIM, FPIPL, MISPON. “The SBAS demonstration flight feat is in line with policy direction of the Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy of Federal Republic of Nigeria; Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) FNCS, FBCS, FIIM for value addition and propensity not only in the Telecommunications Sector but Aviation, Maritime, Rail Transport, Precision Agriculture, Survey, Oil & Gas and Mass-Market Applications for sustainable development beyond Nigerian shores.”

“The new system when fully implemented would enhance safety, efficiency, and turnaround time for airlines using the facility, while fuel consumption would also reduce” says the Acting MD/CEO of Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA); Mr Mathew Lawrence Pwajok. “We ensured the Honourable Minister of Aviation directive was carried out to the letter. The Minister; Senator (Capt) Hadi Sirika directed that we liaise with NIGCOMSAT Ltd in conjuction with Nigerian Airspace Management and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to conduct real SBAS flight demonstration within Nigeria’s Airspace and it was a success.”

“Our longstanding expertise acquired with the development of EGNOS SBAS in Europe and KASS SBAS in Korea combined with our new leading-edge satellite positioning technologies make 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,” declared Benoit Broudy, Vice President Navigation business at Thales Alenia Space in France.

“I’m proud to have demonstrated the utility and efficiency of the SBAS services in the continent. This event will bolster the deployment of the ANGA system, the navigation solution for Africa by Africa, which will enhance air navigation safety and efficiency for the benefit of the whole continent, in line with my vision for the unification of the African Sky,” stated Mohamed Moussa, Director General of ASECNA.


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