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Eurojar Feature - Galileo and Egnos to promote safer transport

Syria hosted on April 8 a workshop on EU's Egnos and Galielo satellite navigation systems during which speakers from the European Commission presented the on-going EU activities that aim to extend the Egnos signal to Arab countries. Report.

Noureddine El-Athar
- Damascus, Al Hayat

The Euromed Transport program team is working on introducing major actors from the transport sector in the Arab countries to European satellite navigation systems Galileo and Egnos, and their main applications for civil aviation, road, rail, maritime and freight transport. In this framework, the Syrian Ministry of Transport organized a workshop in cooperation with the Euromed Transport program, during which experts from Arab countries were introduced to Egnos, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, Europe’s first venture into satellite navigation, and to Galileo’s future plans.

The EU is planning to extend Egnos signal coverage to its neighboring countries, in order to improve the accuracy of America’s GPS signals. In 2003, the EU began to implement the Galileo satellite system that provides wide range of applications for users in every transport domain, such as aviation, maritime, road and rail. It is expected that its services would be provided for all countries of the world between 2016 and 2017. Two master control centers were established, in Germany and Italy. And two satellites are expected to be launched in December 2010, and be fully operational next year within the Galileo system.

Roel Hoenders, head of Euromed transport programme, says that the civil aviation sector will be the first to benefit from Egnos services in the future, as its aim is to improve the signal quality during take-off and landing phases of flights. He also said that four ranging and integrity monitoring stations for Egnos are under construction in the region in order to extend the coverage further in the whole Mediterranean region, which lacks now sufficient accuracy and safety. According to him, Egnos open service is provided since 2009 and its safety component will be available next November, whereas official use will start next year in the Mediterranean region. Roel Hoendrers says that Galileo is a navigation satellite system that is comparable to America’s GPS system. Its aim is to provide services to Europe, its neighboring countries as well as to the rest of the world. This satellite navigation system will lead to positive outcomes as it will provide precise and specific information about maritime, civil aviation and terrestrial transport sectors. Roel Hoenders adds that through EGNOS, which will pave the way for Galileo, we endeavor to ensure safer aeronautical services.

Safer aeronautical services
The workshop comes within the framework of the Euromed Transport program, that started its activities after the launch of the Barcelona process in 1995, and that aims to facilitate integration between transport systems within European and Mediterranean Partner Countries, with the goal of promoting regional economic integration by improving the efficiency of land, sea, air and rail transport systems.

Syrian Minister of Transport Yaarob Badr says that “this workshop is highly important as it provides information on the satellite navigation systems that will be implemented in the region, and it allows number of countries to understand how to benefit from these systems and their services.” Badr adds that “every official concerned with aviation, maritime, road and rail transport sectors should be informed about EU integration programs, as it is important to be prepared for these services that will be provided within the next five years.” Yaarob Badr explains that “Syria’s strategic geographical location requires modernizing its multimode transport system. Currently, railway links between Syrian and Iraqi ports were established. We are building a railway line between Syria and Jordan, and consequently, through Jordan, between Syria and Saudi Arabia as well as the rest of the Arabian Gulf states. We are also working on building two highway roads, the first one from the North to the South and the second one from the West to the East.” He says that “this infrastructure requires equal efforts to help improve quality standards in services and harmonize these standards with European and neighboring countries’ ones.”

Haitham Mer’esh is an engineer within the Syrian railway service. According to him, “the satellite GPS system will be of great importance for the railway, as it will allow measuring the train speed, identifying its direction, the temperature of the engine, the oil and wheels’ pressure; this type of information would be available from a distance without any intervention from the driver.” And this is made possible thanks to sensors that could send information through the GPS system. Therefore, Haitham Mer’esh says that “we can ask the driver to reduce his driving speed. It is also possible to inform him about any technical problem the train could be experiencing. More than that, the system allows preventing train accidents.”
 


 


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