India: India launched the final operational phase of GAGAN, a satellite-based navigation system to aid air traffic from Southeast Asia to Africa, including over the high seas. GAGAN or Global Position System Aided Geo Augmented Navigation is a joint initiative of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Once operational in 2013, GAGAN will provide seamless coverage of air traffic from south Asia to Africa and connect to the systems of Europe and Japan. The GPS signals, which are currently being received from US satellites free of cost, would be entirely transferred to an Indian satellite that would be launched this November. It is also expected to enhance marine and transport navigation, search and rescue operations, survey and mapping.
At present, only the United States, European Union and Japan have such a system. GAGAN would fill the gap between the European EGNOS and the Japanese MSAS systems to provide seamless air navigation service across regional boundaries.
AAI officials said the system will enable airlines to chart out direct routes as they will be less dependent on the ground-based radar systems, save fuel and increase efficiency. The system provides enhanced safety features for the airlines as they would be able to have precision approach guidance towards runways in any weather conditions, the officials said. It will also increase air-to-air surveillance.
Launching the operational phase of the INR 774 crore project, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel asked AAI to maximise its investment and market the capability to other countries in the region. Once launched, GAGAN will redefine the Indian aviation sector, which is currently the ninth largest market in the world, he said and added that in 5-7 years, it will be in the top five.