European Global Navigation Satellite Systems (EGNSS) for Drones operations

European Global Navigation Satellite Systems (EGNSS) for Drones operations

Drones are a novel and very quickly emerging technology with a vast array of applications. As such, drones will grow to outstrip any other user base in the aviation market. GNSS is essential for the safe and reliable navigation of drones, and GNSS receivers are implemented on almost all new commercial drones as a standard feature. With the increasing demand for BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) operations, GNSS (possibly with various augmentations) is the most obvious choice of technology for navigation, although it is not the only one.

European GNSS (E-GNSS) - EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) and Galileo, provide significant added value to drone navigation, positioning, and related applications, with respect to other systems. EGNOS corrections provide over Europe improved robustness and higher safety of navigation as well as improved accuracy, especially relevant in the vertical axis for drones operations. With Galileo satellites in addition to GPS, drones may use signals from more satellites for position determination which improves the accuracy and also will increase the availability of received signals (e.g. key in urban canyons). Galileo also offers distinct and unique features benefitting drones operations, e.g. Galileo’s authentication will provide additional trust in the veracity of the position, being more protected from intentional or unintentional interferences (e.g. spoofing). Several drone navigation receiver manufacturers already offer EGNSS capabilities in a multi-constellation suite, and the number of models is increasing continuously. The regulatory framework for drones operations is under development and significant progress has been made in 2019 by the publication by the EC of regulations 2019/945 (CE marking process; technical requirements from UAS) and of Regulation 2019/947 (Operations of drones in open and Specific categories and registration of operators and certified drones). Drones operations in the open category will have to comply with strict limitations (e.g. flight in visual line of sight), requirements for remote pilot training, requirements on the operator, and depending on the class of drone technical requirements for the drone such as e-identification, geo-awareness, height limitations capabilities. As a general principle, drone operations in the specific category will be subject to approval by the competent authority based on a risk assessment performed by the operator. EGNSS can contribute to more accurate and robust drones operations.

The main objective of this paper is to introduce the added value of EGNOS and Galileo for current drones operations and future U-Space services.


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There are already a number of civil user applications for drones and many others could emerge in the future. The use of drones is growing rapidly worldwide. The ongoing work on regulatory aspects for drones suggests the rapid development of drones operations. Future regulation will strongly support the drone market uptake. Drone-based applications will face more demanding requirements in terms of availability, accuracy, and integrity. Here Galileo and EGNOS can contribute answers to those requirements:


  • Integration of Galileo multi-constellation and multifrequency receivers and integration with other sensors (e.g. inertial, vision) will significantly improve the accuracy, availability, continuity, and reliability of positioning/ navigation solutions for drones;

  • Galileo authentication can contribute to minimizing the risk of cybersecurity threats;

  • SBAS improves accuracy and provides integrity to the navigation solution, supporting a more robust ATM and UTM system in the case of RPAS integration in controlled airspace; SBAS, RAIM, and in the future ARAIM (Advanced Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring) will cover the more demanding requirements, especially in terms of integrity and facilitate the integration of drones in the Certified category with manned aviation.


The use of EGNSS for drones’ altitude determination delivers higher accuracy than other alternative technologies and is not affected by temperature gradients, therefore E-GNSS is one of the most suitable options to ensure vertical separation in VLL operations. E-GNSS plays a crucial role in all applications and is expected to become the backbone of drone navigation applications, particularly for BVLOS operations. Depending on the specific operational needs, a combination of technologies, with hybridization of sensors, as well as operational procedures, may be required to achieve the required performance and meet safety requirements.


by European GNSS Agency (GSA)

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