DFMC GNSS will begin within the next decade

ICAO and standards setting bodies RTCA and EUROCAE are developing aviation standards for Dual Frequency Multi Constellation services (DFMC) which could mean operational readiness in the 2025-2028 timeframe.
DFMC which combines dual frequency signals from the United States’ GPS, the Russian Federation’s GLONASS, Europe’s Galileo and China’s BeiDou will help aviation both enhance its performance and benefit from additional robustness.
Air navigation safety agency Eurocontrol said that through its leadership, ICAO’s Navigation Systems Panel has developed a concept of operations (CONOPS) for DFMC GNSS as a vehicle to promote consensus among stakeholders on how it will be used in aviation.
The aim is for DMFC to be introduced in the most cost-efficient way and to deliver operational benefits while overcoming technical, operational, political and institutional challenges with the long-term goal to get all nations to accept all GNSS elements that have been standardised by ICAO for lateral navigation.
Eurocontrol said the challenge facing ICAO, states and aviation stakeholders in the medium-term is to address individual states’ requirements for the use of specific GNSS elements, while simultaneously limiting the complexity of DFMC equipment and – most importantly for airspace users – ensuring backward compatibility for existing equipment.

“We are working within ICAO because having an interoperable solution worldwide is a must. Today, GNSS is based on one constellation and one frequency: GPS L1. This is a very simple solution and it works. But if for some reason it fails or is not available, it could have a significant impact on capacity. We want to improve GNSS’s overall robustness and performance. We want to reduce risks and bring operational benefits to users, but without making GNSS too complex or too expensive,” points out Paco Salabert from the Navigation Unit at Eurocontrol.

“The big challenge has been to satisfy all stakeholders. We have been facilitating an agreement among different States’ interests, while respecting the interests of both airlines and industry,” explains Ken Ashton who has been working for Eurocontrol on the CONOPS.

ICAO will present a working paper at the 13th Air Navigation Conference (held from 9 to 19 October 2018). It will summarise the main outcomes of the DFMC CONOPS and make several recommendations on the way forward.

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