Helicopters Deploy GNSS in Europe
Background & Objectives
Helicopters Deploy EGNOS in Europe (HEDGE) aims to support the uptake of EGNOS by helicopters and general aviation through a series of demonstrations and flight trials that illustrate the benefits of EGNOS in permitting safer flight operations in low visibility conditions. HEDGE will work with certification authorities to ensure that the lessons learnt during the project can be used to facilitate an easier upgrade path for helicopter and general aviation operations.
HEDGE includes three helicopter demonstrations and one fixed-wing (small aircraft/general aviation) demonstration.
Helicopter operations can benefit significantly from advanced GNSS capabilities. HEDGE as a project will deploy innovative helicopter operations that make use of extreme precision navigation. The potential benefits of SBAS on helicopters have not yet been unlocked. There are important helicopter operations that could dramatically benefit from SBAS, such as offshore operations, mountain rescue and HEMS. A demonstration of the SOAP procedure will be used to build support in the offshore oil and gas industry.
Fixed-wing SBAS procedures are maturing quickly and much of the technical work is complete. However, HEDGE will demonstrate that for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft – especially for GA (General Aviation) – the benefits of EGNOS can be significant. This project includes some fixed-wing demonstrations, but does not duplicate the standardisation/technical work underway.
The HEDGE objectives are:
- to develop the new ‘SOAP’ approach procedures for offshore helicopter operations. The work will produce input material relating to the new approach procedure for ICAO panels working on standardisation and prepare an outline industry specification for future equipment development;
- to implement the new ICAO ‘PINS’ and LPV approach procedures for mountain rescue and Helicopter Emergency Services (HEMS). This will be the first such demonstration for some of these groups and is intended to demonstrate the considerable benefits of EGNOS-enabled instrument approaches. Many helicopter operators recognise the disadvantages of the current overreliance on visual procedures, which reduces safety and operational flexibility;
- to demonstrate a new integrated airport surveillance/navigation concept based on EGNOS for positioning. The concept will use EGNOS/GPS to provide precise positioning for navigation as well as transmitting in ADS-B messages.
HEDGE will also support testing and operational practices that lead to successful EGNOS adoption, specifically including:
- data collection to support the certification process for helicopters (which can have difficult reception issues compared to fixed-wing aircraft);
- developing operational utilities, such as training materials and certification guidance, that will facilitate the deployment of EGNOS.
Work performed & results
The HEDGE project will involve a number of stakeholders of a pan-European nature from the north (Scotland) to the south (Spain) and to the east (Poland). By involving a wide number of users and several different aircraft operators, HEDGE will be able to clearly deliver and demonstrate the innovative applications enabled through EGNOS.
By focusing on helicopters, which so far have not had as much technical work in this area, HEDGE hopes to bring clear safety benefits to those areas where EGNOS is not yet fully developed. This will include close involvement by the users, who are driving the applications that are to be used in the trials and who will demonstrate the benefits of EGNOS to the decision-makers.
HEDGE will also show the integrated role that EGNOS can have in navigation and surveillance.