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GNSS Technology in Support of Air Navigation

About the project

The National Institutes of Science and Technology (INCT, in Portuguese) are one of the largest science and technology programs in Brazil, aimed at developments in the frontier of knowledge.

Our INCT on “GNSS Technology in Support of Air Navigation” (INCT GNSS-NavAer) was approved after a call for proposals issued in the year 2014. The project started in January 2017 to run for six years. It addresses the theme of "Air Traffic Control and Management" included during the call.

INCT GNSS-NavAer has the participation of several organizations. The São Paulo State University (Unesp), campus Presidente Prudente, is its coordinator. Other member organizations are the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Aeronautics Institute of Technology (ITA), Institute of Aeronautics and Space - Brazilian Air Force (IAE-FAB), Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), and the Federal Institute of São Paulo (IFSP). Other collaborating organizations include the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) and Federal University of Technology – Paraná (UTFPR). There are also several volunteer organizations spread throughout the country that host equipment for the project.

This project is funded by National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) and São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

Figure 1: Divulgation of INCT GNSS-NavAer.


The air navigation around the world is currently undergoing a paradigm shift when the subject involves the technologies employed. The so-called traditional technologies have been widely used for many years. However, with natural evolution and population growth, there is an increasing demand for airspace use. These new technologies should provide a more economical and optimized use of airspace, reducing flight time, fuel consumption, separation between aircraft, with improvements in performance and safety of operations, achieving the expected sustainable development.

An example of such new technologies is satellite navigation, such as the GPS (Global Positioning System) and other systems that make up the GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System), rather than ground-based radio aids. And there is a growing demand for efficiently managed air traffic management

The use of GNSS satellite navigation systems is a strong trend for air navigation, in particular for the precision landings of an aircraft in degraded visual conditions. Navigation from GNSS dispenses all or a large part of the ground infrastructure, presents costly minors and provides greater flexibility in landing procedures, increasing accessibility to the aerodrome through more efficient operations.

Figure 2: Lecture "The multiple uses of GNSS and the NavAer INCT" presented in the EESC-USP Post-Graduation Engineering Program.

In Brazil and worldwide, GNSS navigation is employed for en-route navigation and non-precision landing procedures in order to meet the requirements of the Performance-Based Navigation (PBN).

In a worldwide level, in air navigation, when it comes to precision procedures, the two technologies currently available for this are the Ground-Based Augmentation System (GBAS) and the Satellite System for Performance (Satellite-Based Augmentation System: SBAS). In Brazil, the Department of Airspace Control (DECEA), in its role as Air Navigation Service Provider, has been studying for over 15 years the feasibility of deploying GNSS-based technologies for precision air navigation procedures (Category I). ). However, so far no SBAS or GBAS system is operational. This is due to the strong interference imposed by the ionospheric layer on GNSS signals.

This INCT aims a deep understanding on the actions of the ionosphere on the GNSS signal for application purposes in air navigation. To this end, one of the infrastructure under development is the GNSS NavAer network:

Figura 3: INCT GNSS NavAer network map