The Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) adoption in Africa is part of the outreach programme for stakeholders to highlight the outcomes of the flight demonstration carried out on 1 February 2023 as a crucial step forward in providing and using satellite navigation services in Africa and the Indian Ocean regions.
The flight demonstration was followed by a two-day workshop (2–3 February 2023), jointly organised by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd (NIGCOMSAT), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), SatNav Africa Joint Programme Office (JPO), the Augmented Navigation for Africa (ANGA) and the EU Global Action on Space.
The first day opened with presentations from NAMA, NIGCOMSAT, the African Union Commission Department of Infrastructure and Energy (AUC-DIE), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC).
During his opening address, the acting MD of NAMA, Pwajok Mathew Lawrence, introduced the concept of operational SBAS as a correction service for a standalone Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) observation that has been implemented in several regions around the world, including the United States, India, Europe and Japan.
In addition, he noted that the increased accuracy is achieved using correction signals (referred to as the SBAS signals) derived from data collected from a ground reference station network. “Correction data can reduce the positioning error from standalone GNSS signals from five to ten metres to decimetre accuracies. An operational SBAS transmits this correction signal via satellite, as opposed to a terrestrial communications channel, bling It to cover a wider geographical area,” he explained.
While describing the structure of an operational SBAS, Pwajok noted that it usually contains multiple reference stations, master stations, communication satellites and broadcast SBAS signals. Then, he briefly described SBAS implementation in other regions, starting with the United States. “The US has been implementing the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) since 2003 and has utilised it for PBN approaches with vertical guidance. They are specifically tailored for smaller airports as used by general aviation.”
He also discussed some of the critical applications of SBAS in aviation, including:
- Enroute oceanic and continental;
- Terminal phase (SIDs and STARS);
- Approach phase (UNAV/VNAV, Missed approach) Cat I; and
- Surface area (Surface movement and gate assignment) Cat II and Cat III.
“SBAS can also be utilised in marine navigation, search and rescue, Support to Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) operations and low-flying helicopter operations in the coastal areas,” he concluded.
Pwajok also highlighted some challenges associated with operating Ground Based Navigational Facilities, including their susceptibility to interference and failure and the cost of vegetation control, providing security, providing a cooling system, birds and wildlife control, and associated visual aids (approach and runway lights).
The mid-afternoon session had several African stakeholders highlighting the aviation projects in their respective organisations and countries. The opening speech was given by the Minister for Aviation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Hadi Abubakar Sirika. His speech reiterated the need to welcome multi-entity support to ensure the smooth operation of the aviation industry in Africa.
The speakers emphasised the importance of environmental safety. In this regard, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) representative, the CEO, Captain Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, discussed the NCAA’s work and their commitment to safety, such as creating an aviation environmental safety programme called the Green-Sky-Green programme. This carbon emission programme empowers eco-citizen travellers to grow ten trees for every domestic ticket and 100 trees for every international ticket purchased in Nigeria.
Moreover, Captain Musa noted that the NCAA has carried out a demonstration flight for a safety assessment. This position was reaffirmed by the managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Captain Rabiu H Yaduda, who also noted the importance of maintaining accuracy to achieve safety in the aviation industry.
Dr Mohammed Moussa, the Director General of the Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), highlighted concerns around sustainability and announced that Augmented Navigation in Africa (ANGA), a programme for improving the safety and efficiency of flights in the African space would be operational from 2025. The session concluded with the speaker from the AU, the head of infrastructure and mobility, Eric Ntangengerwa, who reported a continental cost-benefit analysis on aviation infrastructure which had positive results. Additionally, James Danga from the Civil Aviation Commission highlighted the importance of using the relevant financial model in implementing SBAS on the continent.
The session was succeeded by industry experts who elaborated on SBAS services and applications. Corinne Bousquet presented “SBAS added value,” highlighting how accidents occur and described a recent aircraft accident, BaroVNAV, which occurred on 23 May 2022. There were discussions on the main safety barriers, concluding with recommendations on maintaining comprehensive safety measures in the industry.
Delta airlines presented a SABS report highlighting the European Union’s new regulation on improving flight safety, capacity and efficiency through traffic sequencing and fuel consumption. Delta’s presentation also covered the following categories: large hub space operations, second and third-tier airport operations, airport equipment and approach procedures, aircraft limitations and MEL restrictions.
Aasim Akhan from Avionics marketing presented the GLU-200, which integrates navigating and landing functions. Akhan used examples of how the multi-mode receiver interacted with Airbus, Boeing and BizAv.
The second day started with a panel on SBAS operations from the flight deck, with representatives from Kenya Airways, Rwanda Airways, Air France, Renegade Air, ALS Limited and Skyward Express detailing the prospects of SBAS in their respective operations.
In his presentation, titled “SBAS from commercial aviation perspective”, Captain Alvin Mohamed, Accountable Manager and Director of Flight Operations from Renegade Air, discussed his company’s portfolio, highlighting their services and the importance of SBAS to the company’s operation. “We need SBAS because it improves the accuracy and efficiency of GNSS information by correcting signal measurement. This is critical to our operation because some of the routes we ply (e.g. in Sudan and Somalia) have low navigation. Thus, we require a solution to enhance our system’s accuracy while operating in those regions. Unfortunately, these issues have resulted in diversions and delays of flights (scheduled, cargo and charter flights, including ACMI), which has resulted in economic losses, especially during diversions,” concluded Captain Alvin.
During his presentation, Augustus Mogoi, Head of Safety at Skyward Express, noted that SBAS plays directly into their company’s core tenets of providing safe, convenient and reliable air transport. “Most of the airfields we utilise in certain parts of Kenya, including Lodwar, Ukunda, Lamu, etc., do not make provisions for a navigation system or landing equipment. To this end, implementing SBAS would play an essential role in ensuring the accuracy of signals during our operations in these remote areas,” he concluded.
The next session saw a presentation from Bakiénon Louis, the Director of Operations at ASECNA, discussing the Augmented Navigation for Africa (ANGA) programme based on the benefits of SBAS to the aviation industry, including flight safety, reduced fuel usage, accessibility and rationalisation of infrastructure.
Mr Louis commented that “one of the most important features of this system is its autonomy. The system was designed specifically for Africa based on the continent’s peculiarities and not blindly adopting a foreign solution. When operational, the system would provide services across the continent. Currently, ten stations cover southern and central Africa, which was how we could utilise one for this demonstration. Our first demonstration was held in Lome in 2021, later in Douala, Brazzaville, and now in Abuja, showing that SBAS can be utilised on a continental level.”
Furthermore, Mr Louis reiterated the agency’s commitment to meeting the 2025 timeline and ensuring that the robust SBAS signal becomes a mainstay in Africa’s aviation industry. This, he reported, would be achieved using Legacy-1 before implementing the dual-frequency multi-constellation. “However, to do this, we need to install more ground stations to capture the entire continent. For example, in Ethiopia, Seychelles and several other locations, totalling about 30 stations to ensure a ubiquitous network,” he added.
He also discussed the indigenous infrastructures needed for implementing SBAS – the traditional GPS to provide the signal and the ground stations to correct the signal. “A typical implementation cycle would involve our prototype in Dakar, which includes all the necessary signal corrections sending the signal to Abuja, Nigeria, from where it will be uplinked to the NIgComSat-1R. From there, the satellite would broadcast the signal across the continent to all aircraft equipped with the technology to receive the broadcast,” Mr Louis concluded.
The Outcome of the Multi-stakeholder Consultation on SBAS Implementation in Africa
This session highlighted the important discussions from the multi-entity consultation regarding the cost-benefit analysis (CBA) on SBAS implementation in Africa, sponsored by the AUC.
In support of critical decisions related to SBAS implementation in Africa, the 3rd Single African Air Transport Market stakeholders meeting was held in Dakar, Senegal, from 30-31 January 2020. The resolution from the meeting was a call to action urging the AUC as the lead agency for the critical activities of Pillar No.4 on aviation infrastructure.
In support of several supporting agencies, including AFCAC, ICAO, and SatNav JPO, the resolution was to conduct a cost-benefit analysis (carried out by a private consultant) to implement a cost-effective implementation plan for adopting SBAS in Africa.
In line with that action, AUC, in collaboration with AFCAC and JPO, successfully organised and convened a continental hybrid workshop to review and validate the cost-benefit analysis report held from 30-31 May 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda. One hundred sixty participants attended the event; 70 attended physically, while 90 attended virtually. The outcome included the following:
- After validating the data collection process [involving a do-nothing approach], the CBA report was found to have adequately highlighted the benefit of SBAS in Africa.
- The implementation can be regionally adopted using SADC, ECOWAS, and EAC structures.
- The feasibility of SBAS service provision in Africa complied with ICAO’s store, particularly Annex 10.
- There is a need for national telecommunication authorities to manage and assign frequency spectrums to entities at their national level to prevent interferences with SBAS signals, specifically the uplink signals.
- AUC and AFCAC need to collaborate with their partners to institutionalise a governance framework for SBAS, including the financing models to aid SBAS implementation in Africa.
- AUC should collaborate with ICAO and the International Committee on GNSS to support and protect the allocation of frequency spectrum related to the aviation industry through the ITU allocation mechanism in line with ICAO standard operating practices.
- Airspace users also need to support the implementation of SBAS provided that no mandatory requirements are placed on the operators to fit SBAS equipment on their aircraft and no cost (directly or indirectly) is levied against airspace users.
- Decommissioning conventional navigation aids (VOR/DME/ILS/NDB) should occur with proper user consultation through a collaborative decision-making process under ICAO and, specifically, the Afri-GNSS strategy.
- Implementing partners should provide technical support, capacity building and awareness to all concerned parties regarding the application of SBAS to aviation and non-aviation sectors.
Finally, AUC and AFCAC would submit the outcomes and other recommendations from the CBA study to the AUC policy-making organs.
In another session, Bedan Thendu, an aviation expert at SatNav Africa JPO, discussed the viability of GNSS adoption in Africa. According to him, in 2020, JPO characterised the potential of GNSS/SBAS applications in Africa for nine sectors and revealed the aviation industry as one of the priority sectors. However, he noted that the current SBAS penetration rate in Africa is about 4.2%, translating to a meagre 25 unit receivers of SBAS being utilised in the African aviation industry.
“The SBAS offers a unique solution to most of the challenges facing the aviation industry, and the implementation of seamless satellite navigation solutions (GNSS, SBAS, LPV) by 2025 will bring about the sector’s growth,” Mr Bedan concluded.
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