Navigation satellites contend with stormy sun

Just as we grow used to satellite navigation in everyday life, media reports argue that a coming surge in solar activity could render satellite navigation devices useless, perhaps even damaging satellites themselves. The question often asked is this true? No, is the reply.

US and EU announce collaboration

On 30th July 2010, the Government of the United States, the European Union (EU) and its Member States announced the conclusion of an initial phase of consultations affirming user interoperability and enhanced performance of combined GPS and Galileo receivers’ performance under the auspices of their 2004 Agreement on the Promotion, Provision and Use of Galileo and GPS Satellite-Based Navigation Systems and Related Applications.


From 20th to 24th September ION GNSS 2010 will be held at the Oregon Convention Center, Portland, Oregon and early bird registration was due to expire on 30th August.

The event is said to be the world’s largest technical meeting and showcase for GNSS technology, products and services, bringing together experts in the field to present new research, introduce new technologies and exchange ideas.

ESA satellite ship tracker operations

On 26th August the European Space Agency reported progress on the satellite ship tracker operation.

Nearing the end of its third month of continuous operation, the International Space Station’s ship-tracking experiment has experienced a marked increase in data quality, it is understood. Now it operates along with a dedicated satellite carrying the same receiver. The Station’s Columbus laboratory is being used to track AIS signals from ships at sea. Commercial vessels are mandated by IMO to carry AIS transponders.

Atlantic Conference on Eyjafjallajökull and aviation

Keilir Aviation Academy, in co-operation with the Icelandic Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Administration, ISAVIA, the Meteorological Office, the Institute of Earth Sciences, Icelandair, the Association of European Airlines and the US Embassy in Iceland, will convene a Conference on Eyjafjallajökull and Aviation at Keflavik Airport, Iceland, on 15th and 16th September, 2010.

Bridge navigation watch and alarm system

A bridge navigation watch and alarm system (BNWAS) launched by Martek Marine with a full suite of type approvals from major classification societies enables shipowners to fit the IMO-mandated equipment without delay, it was reported by Martek at the end of July.

The Navgard system offers a relatively low cost and effective means of avoiding operational navigational accidents, it is claimed, and can also double as a bridge security system in port.

ESA: Jean-Jacques Dordain continues as Director General

On 17th June the Council of the European Space Agency announced that Jean-Jacques Dordain will continue as the Director General of ESA for a further period of four years. Mr Dordain has served as Director General of ESA since 2003. This third mandate extends his term to June 2015.

Mr Dordain’s tenure at ESA includes many important European space milestones. At the end of 2003 he signed the first Framework Agreement between ESA and the European Community, starting a new relationship that continues to build.

TransNav 2011

The 9th Navigational Symposium will be held in Gdynia, Poland from 15th to 17th June 2011. The Symposium is to be organized by the Faculty of Navigation of the Gdynia Maritime University and The Nautical Institute.

The Symposium is addressed to scientists and professionals in order to share their expert knowledge, experience and research results concerning all aspects of navigation, safety of navigation and sea transportation. The goal of the TransNav is to bring together experts from the field of navigation, transport, ocean engineering and maritime technology to discuss on the state-of-the-art and to present new research findings and perspectives of future developments with respect to the conference themes.

Galileo competition

Entrepreneurs have the chance to win prizes totalling a million Euros in this year’s European Satellite Navigation Competition. ESA will award a special prize of €10,000 for the best idea and support the business start up at one of its four incubation centres.

Now in its seventh year, the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) is boosting ideas for innovative satellite navigation application and services. More than a thousand ideas were submitted over the first six years, many of which have turned into new businesses in Europe.

GLAs AtoN quintannual review

The General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs) have now completed their latest five yearly comprehensive review of aids to navigation (AtoN) requirements for the waters around the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Straits of Malacca and Singapore Survey

It was announced a few weeks back that a key hydrographic survey within the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore was underway, as part of the Marine Electronic Highway (MEH) Demonstration Project, a regional project that IMO is executing for the Global Environment Facility (GEF)/World Bank. The purpose is to produce an updated electronic navigation chart of the area.

CANSO leads calls for volcanic ash response

The volcanic eruption in Iceland and the resulting ash cloud is a wake-up call for Europe and a clear sign that better co-ordination structures are necessary, with clear responsibilities and accountabilities, to allow for improved decision-making. It is also clear that more work needs to be done to establish a better understanding of the effect of volcanic ash on aircraft.
Some of this work has recently been done in Europe which has led to a reassessment of the safety risk. New or revised international guidance and procedures now need to be determined by ICAO.

The Eurocontrol position

EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air
Navigation, hosted a telephone conference on 19th April between the
European Commission, several European states, air navigation service
providers and technical experts.
The conference concluded that, while the initial reaction by the states
was prudent and reduced risk to an absolute minimum, it was now time
to move towards a harmonized European approach (set out below) that
permitted flights – but only where safety was not compromised.

ATC losing € 25 million a day

An analysis of Air Traffic Control organisations by CANSO, the global voice of Air Traffic Management on 19th April showed that globally the sector is losing up to € 25 million each day from the closure of European airspace.

ATC organisations eager to help get flights moving

CANSO calls for co-ordinated airspace safety assessment

The Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), the global voice of Air Traffic Management, has stressed that its members are eager to help with a resumption of flights across Europe as soon as possible. But it has also warned that air traffic control had to take advice from aviation safety experts in each country before flights could resume.

Icelandic volcano eruption

The Eyjafjallajökull volcano is still erupting, and possibly intensifying, with the ash plume rising to 30,000 feet. Evidence of ash dust over the UK is being detected by Met Office observations and there are reports of dust reaching the ground. The Met Office commissioned NERC (National Environment Research Council) research flight flew over the North Sea on Friday afternoon (16th April) and detected three distinct layers of ash, from fine particles at low levels to large particles around 8,000 feet.

Eyjafjallajökull eruption

15 April 2010 – This image, acquired today by ESA’s Envisat satellite, shows the vast cloud of volcanic ash sweeping across the UK from the eruption in Iceland, more than 1000 km away.

Carried by winds high up in the atmosphere, the cloud of ash from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in southwest Iceland has led to the closure of airports throughout the UK and Scandinavia, with further disruption in northern Europe expected later today. The ash, which can be seen as the large grey streak in the image, is drifting from west to east at a height of about 11 km above the surface of the Earth. It poses a serious danger to aircraft engines; hence the airspace shut down.

The volcano erupted, for the first time since 1821, on 20 March and started erupting for a second time on Wednesday. The volcano, under the glacier ice, has caused ice melt and subsequent flooding and damage locally.

This image was acquired on 15 April 2010, at 13.25 (CEST) by Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) while working in Full Resolution Mode to provide a spatial resolution of 300 metres.

Aviation organisations launch safety information exchange

On 31st March it was announced from IATA HQ in Montreal that the Association along with three governmental aviation safety organizations, took the first step to creating a global information exchange to improve aviation safety.
IATA, together with ICAO, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Commission of the European Union (EU), signed a Declaration of Intent to exchange safety data. The signing took place during the ICAO High-Level Safety Conference in Montreal.

17th IALA Conference in Cape Town, March 2010

The 17th IALA Conference with the theme Aids to Navigation ? A global approach, all waters, all risks, all solutions, was successfully held from 22nd to 27th March 2010 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, co-hosted by the Transnet National Ports Authority of South Africa.
The Conference was attended by more than 400 delegates and many staff from the host country. Delegates represented 59 countries of which 45 were IALA national members.

Lighthouses of South Africa

There are few books on South African lighthouses although PORTNET produced a slim publication in 1991 and Harold Williams, a former senior Engineer there wrote Lighthouses of Southern Africa.
Now comes Lighthouses of South Africa, a profusely illustrated book by a master photographer with more than 500 splendid and frequently dramatic photographs showing the 45 operational lighthouses, other aids to navigation and the flora and fauns associated with these stations as well as their history. The text is supported by 47 maps and a rich anthology of nautical quotations and poems.

US aviation security

On 2nd April Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will begin implementing new enhanced security measures for all air carriers with international flights to the United States to strengthen the safety and security of all passengers?superseding the emergency measures put in place immediately following the attempted terrorist attack on 25th December 2009.

EMSA update

Since 10th March EU Member States have had access to a new, userfriendly web service for tracking shipping in European waters. For the first time, EMSA’s new SafeSeaNet tracking module, called STIRES, allows authorities to see all commercial vessels in and around EU waters in a single view. This will be closely followed by the picture for the whole world. The information has been available to Member States in the SafeSeaNet system for some time, but this is the first time that users will be able to see it in a fully interactive, multi-functional display.

Durban dredging completed

On 31st March South Africa’s Transnet Limited marked the scheduled completion of one of its key projects in its rolling five-year ZAR93 billion capital investment programme, Durban Harbour Entrance Widening and Deepening. The ZAR 3 billion project was completed on time (in fact, a month ahead of schedule) and under the forecasted cost to completion.

Queen Mary 2 entering Cape Town

New GB marine accidents chief

It was announced from London on 15th February that Transport Secretary Lord Adonis had appointed Steve Clinch as the new Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, the head of the Marine Accidents Investigation Branch (MAIB). He will take up the post later this year, when the current Chief Inspector, Stephen Meyer, retires after more than eight years of distinguished service.

SEAZONE: Creation of land-sea integrated reference data for the North Sea

It was reported from Hampshire, UK, on 15th February that the marine GIS company SeaZone is collaborating with hydrographic offices and other organisations in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden and UK on a three year European funded project (Interreg IVB North Sea Programme) to improve marine reference information for the North Sea.