The European Commission has officially started operating the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), by launching its Open Service.

The satellite-based augmentation system improves the accuracy of satellite navigation signals over Europe from nearly 10 metres to two metres.

The system is composed of transponders aboard three geostationary satellites and is a precursor of Galileo, the global satellite navigation system being developed by the EU.

EGNOS can also support new applications in various sectors such as high-precision spraying of fertilisers in agriculture or automatic road-tolling and pay-per-use insurance schemes in transport.

The system has been developed by the European industries, the EOIG (EGNOS Operator and Infrastructure Group) with the support of the EC, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Eurocontrol.

EGNOS’s next service, Single European Sky regulation, which will be used to warn the user of a malfunction of the system within six seconds, is expected to be in place by mid-2010.