Recent flight trials for European GNSS solutions

EGNSS4RPAS project, funded by the European Comission, has deployed recently dedicated flight trials to show how Galileo and EGNOS are able to commit to a safer and more efficient future of U-Space.

Some field trials took place at the ATLAS drone test facility in Villacarrillo, Spain involving a fixed-wing RPA and two multirotor RPAs. One trial took place in the urban environment of Villacarrillo using the multirotor RPA. This last operation was the first one in an urban environment ever approved by the national civil aviation authority AESA, and one of the few examples of real urban operations in Europe.

In all these experimental test operations, the RPAs were equipped with a multi-constellation and multi-frequency receiver which was used to compute the EGNSS solutions and the reference trajectory using Precise Point Positioning. Moreover, multi-constellation and multi-frequency antennas were also installed.

In open visibility conditions, the results clearly show that the use of Galileo in dual constellation with GPS significantly improves accuracy compared to GPS-only for both the horizontal and vertical dimension. The introduction of EGNOS significantly enhances the GPS-only accuracy.

The urban scenario posed several challenges to the reception of GNSS signals. Despite having fewer satellites available, the Galileo-only solution still provides significantly better performances than the GPS-only solution.

Eventually, these flight trials showed how European GNSS solutions are a pivotal element for the safety and efficiency of drone operations even in cities. These operations have demonstrated, again, the added value of EGNSS for drones and support the uptake of EGNSS-based standards in the RPAS community.