EGNOS expanding to more European airports

18/03/2016

At the World ATM Congress in Madrid, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) recognised the latest ANSPs to implement EGNOS-based approaches, along with highlighting how the programme drives European aviation.

European airports and aircraft operators are reaping the rewards of EGNOS, the EuropeanConsidering the safety and cost benefits of EGNOS implementation, it is no wonder that so many European airports are looking to publish EGNOS-enabled LPV approaches. Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service. This is particularly true of small and regional airports, and the operators of business and general aviation aircraft. Speaking at a GSA-sponsored event on EGNOS and aviation during this week’s World Air Traffic Management (ATM) Congress in Madrid, GSA Market Development Officer Carmen Aguilera highlighted how the increasing number of airports with localiser performance with vertical guidance (LPVs) procedures in place continues to increase. “But procedures aren’t very useful if nobody is using them,” she says, noting that many common new aircraft and rotorcraft coming onto the market are satellite-based augmentation systems- (SBAS) ready. This includes the likes of such manufacturers as ATR, Airbus, Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault Falcon Jets, Hawker, Beechcraft and Pilatus. “In addition to the new aircraft models being manufactured, we are also seeing more and more retrofit solutions that allow legacy aircraft to add EGNOS capabilities– another positive sign that operators of all types of aircraft models understand the many benefits of the programme,” she adds.

Eager airports and ANSPs

Considering the safety and cost benefits of EGNOS implementation, it is no wonder that so many European airports and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) are looking to publish EGNOS-enabled LPV approaches.

Many of Europe’s small and regional airports simply cannot afford the high costs of installing and maintaining ground-based Instrument Landing Systems (ILS). As an alternative to ground-based ILS navigational aids, technology such as EGNOS utilises geostationary satellites and a network of ground stations to receive, analyse and augment Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and, soon, Galileo signals. With EGNOS, these satellite signals become suitable for such safety-critical applications as aircraft landing. Thus, EGNOS-enabled LPV-200 supports lateral and angular vertical guidance with a decision height of 200 feet. This is a capability similar to what is provided by ground-based navigational aids, but without the same financial burden of installing, maintaining and calibrating ground equipment. In fact, the LPV-200 service uses EGNOS signals that are free and do not require additional upgrades to existing airport infrastructure or EGNOS-certified receivers.

“The implementation of these approaches are most important in places that do not have ground-based navigation equipment, such as small and regional airports,” says Eurocontrol’s Deputy Head of the Navigation and CNS Research, Rick Farnworth. “At these airports, these procedures mean increased safety and better situational awareness for the pilot.”

In addition to supporting precision landings, the fact that EGNOS is not tied to ground-based guidance equipment means that different categories of aircraft could potentially use different approaches on the same runway end.

The GSA used the opportunity of the World ATM Congress to recognise the latest airports to publish EGNOS-based LPV procedures and those signing their first EGNOS Working Agreement (EWA). Those recognised included the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) (first EWA and LPV publication), Croatia Control (first EWA and LPV publication), AgustaWestland (first EWA) and BelgoControl (first LPV publication).

“This accomplishment is a direct result of the IAA’s close relationship with the GSA,” says the IAA’s Cathal Mac Criostail. “With the publication of these procedures we have opened up Dublin International Airport. This will serve as a springboard to bringing all of Ireland’s airports on-board in the near future, which will be of immense help for small civil operators and the airports that serve them.”

“Croatian airports, and Dubrovnik in particular, become very busy and congested in the summer months with the arrival of private aircraft,” says Croatia Control’s Josip Josipović. “But with the publishing of these LPV procedures here, in place of ILS, the airport is better-positioned to serve this growing demand.” Josipović adds that Croatia Control next plans to roll out the procedures across the country’s 8 international airports.

Speaking on the process of implementation, European Satellite Service Provider (ESSP) CEO Thierry Racaud commented on the growing number of EWAs being signed: “Forty EWAs are already signed, including 12 in 2015 and another 10 planned for 2016 – tripling the number over the last 2 years,” he says. “In addition to our objective of having 340 LPV procedures published by the end of this year, we are also working to extend the EGNOS coverage area, particularly to the southeast Mediterranean region.”

Expanding into the Blue

As to this later objective, the Horizon 2020 co-funded BLUEGNSS Project is working to bring EGNOS to this very challenging region. “Today the southeast Mediterranean region lacks full EGNOS coverage,” explains GNSS Expert Patrizio Vanni of Ente Nazionale Di Assistenza Al Volo (ENAV, the Air Navigation Service Provider in Italy). “To make things even more challenging, each airport involved in the project presents a very different operational environment.”

Recognising the safety, operational and economic benefits of EGNOS implementation, the project is working not only to implement EGNOS-based approaches at airports where no precision approaches are currently available, but also to provide the necessary GNSS training to use these procedures once published. “This process isn’t only about implementing procedures, but also about ensuring that individual countries can do the procedures independently by providing the training material and methods via our ENAV training academy,” adds Vanni.

Funding implementation 

To continue to encourage the implementation of LPV procedures, the GSA has several funding opportunities available. For example, under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, the GSA is supporting projects aimed at implementing GNSS-related applications, including in aviation. Over the past 2 years 40 projects have been funded. A new call will be opened in November 2016, with EUR 33 million available in funding.

In order to facilitate the adoption of European GNSS in the area of receivers and, in doing so, increase the competitiveness of EU industry, the GSA launched the Fundamental Elements funding scheme. The programme has EUR 111.5 million available until 2020 and, in the aviation segment, is looking to fund projects working to develop dual-frequency, multi-constellation SBAS receivers.

Of specific interest to the aviation segment are the GSA’s Aviation Grants . Launched in 2014, these grants aim to accelerate EGNOS adoption in civil aviation. Two calls have so far been issued, with EUR 6 million awarded for the funding of EGNOS procedures at 36 airports, 8 point-in-space (PinS) procedures at 7 helipads, the retrofitting of 65 aircraft by 4 operators and 3 rotorcraft upgrades. A third grant will be opened later this year.

Read more: EGNOS and Galileo for Aviation

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