NIGCOMSAT teams up with ASECNA, Thales Alenia Space to accelerate Aviation development in Africa

The Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited. NIGCOMSAT has achieved another landmark by launching the first Satellite -Based Augmentation System (SBAS) signal over Africa and the Indian Ocean. The feat was accomplished in collaboration with The Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar ASECNA, Thales Alenia Space. The SBAS would help accelerate African aviation development, the company announces.

NIGCOMSAT Ltd, along with Thales Alenia and ASECNA, and partners 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.

The goal, according to the company was; “to show in real configuration the efficiency of the technology developed in the frame of the early open service as part of the SBAS for Africa & Indian Ocean programme which pursues the autonomous provision over the continent of SBAS services, to augment the performances of the satellite navigation constellations GPS and Galileo.”

“These tests were carried out by means of the ASECNA calibration aircraft (ATR42-300), which has been equipped for the occasion by Pildo Labs with specific sensors and embarked VIPs and pilots in 5 rotations over Lome airport.

According to the Nigerian SBAS Project Manager; Engr. Dr. Lasisi Salami Lawal: “Considering the onboard navigation payload asset of NIGCOMSAT-1R, the team will continue to do all that is required to demonstrate and showcase the capabilities of SBAS not only in Aviation but also non-aviation sector such as maritime, rail transport etc to drum up the required resources by stakeholders to adopt SBAS for its many benefits and applications in Africa.”

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). It also demonstrates the benefits of the future operational safety-of-life SBAS services, expected from 2024, in terms of flight safety, efficiency and of environmental protection.

He explained that 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.” he concluded

The excited, MD/CEO of NIGCOMSAT Ltd. Dr. Abimbola Alale declared: “We are proud to support the SBAS for Africa & Indian Ocean open service and to have contributed to the success of these inflight demos using our geostationary communication satellite NIGCOMSAT-1R navigation payload”,

“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; Dr. 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”. Dr Alale Explained.

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”. He added.

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.” He added that it 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.

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.

About the partners:

ASECNA is an International public organisation. Its main mission is to provide air navigation services within an airspace of 16,500,000 square kilometres, divided into six flight information regions (F.I.R) as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). ASECNA also develops solutions for airport management, aviation infrastructure studies and construction, equipment maintenance, calibration of air navigation instruments and training for civil aviation staff. Its 18 Member States are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad and Togo.

Thales Alenia Space

Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth.

About NIGCOMSAT

Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd (NIGCOMSAT) is a company and agency under the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy whose mission is to be the leading satellite operator and service provider in Africa. NIGCOMSAT Ltd owns and operates the Nigerian Communications Satellite. The company provides innovative and cutting-edge satellite communications solutions by operating and managing a geostationary communication satellite-NigComSat–1R, built to provide domestic and international satellite services via a 2-way satellite communications services across West, Central, South East Africa, Europe and Asia. The satellite is a hybrid Communication Satellite with a payload for navigation overlay services (NOS) system similar to EGNOS.

For more information, contact: Dr. Lasisi Salami LAWAL (SBAS Project Manager lasisi@nigcomsat.gov.ng; Mr. Adamu Idris (GM Corporate Affairs) , aidris@nigcomsat.gov.ng

Written by Isqil Najim

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