A new European satellite system has been developed that makes it safer to fly in low visibility. The system is being employed by The Danish Air Ambulance based in Billund. The air ambulance service, which is operated by the Norwegian Air Ambulance in Denmark, is among the first to use the new European satellite system, EGNOS.
According to Johannes Traberg Christiansen, project manager at Danish Air Ambulance, “Bad weather is a big issue” along with “a lot of rainy days, fog, mists, and low cloud ceiling.”
Before the service started using EGNOS, about 10% of missions had to be cancelled as a result of bad weather and there was about 300 incidents a year in Denmark alone.
Mr. Christiansen says that “If we didn’t have a satellite signal, we weren’t able to bring a patient to the hospital. For the person who gets the pre-hospital care and is flown to the hospital, it’s a matter of life and death.”
EGNOS provides accurate positioning so the pilot can rely less on visual clues and more on the instruments. The system is based on geostationary satellites as well as a network of ground stations that constantly correct the GPS signals. These corrections are subsequently relayed in real time to the EGNOS receivers in helicopters, planes, land or sea vehicles.