Approaches, equipment and training: the three pillars of EGNOS and general aviation

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Published: 
10 May 2016
Although the GSA’s EGNOS-based LPV service is free, in order to fly LPV one does need procedures, a certified aircraft and a properly trained pilot.

The European GNSS Agency (GSA) talks EGNOS-based procedures during Aero Friedrichshafen – one of the world’s largest general aviation tradeshows.

Although many think of April in Paris, for the general aviation crowd, April means Germany. More specifically, April is Aero Friedrichshafen time – one of the world’s largest general aviation (GA) trade shows. Once again, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) joined the international GA crowd to discuss the many benefits that the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) provides this important sector.

At the front of everybody’s mind was the GSA’s recent declaration of the LPV 200 (localiser performance with vertical guidance) service. Using EGNOS, LPV-200 provides pilots with more accurate guidance for safer aircraft landings, even in poor weather conditions.

The service level enables aircraft approaches that are operationally equivalent to instrument landing system (ILS) CAT I, providing lateral and vertical guidance without the need for visual contact with the ground until a decision height (DH) of only 200 feet above the runway as minimum.

Why GA needs EGNOS approaches

  1. No need for ground infrastructure
  2. Increased availability of EGNOS equipage
  3. Increased access to airports
  4. Contingency procedures for adverse weather conditions
  5. Greater availability of instrument approach procedures (IAP)
  6. Facilitate pilot training and instrument rating

All EGNOS-based approaches, both LPV and the new LPV-200, are considered ILS look-alikes but without the expensive ground infrastructure required for ILS. “We received great feedback from pilots who say that landing with EGNOS is more comfortable, easy to follow and often more stable than with conventional ILS approaches,” says GSA Market Development Officer . “Because of the increasing number of EGNOS-enabled airports throughout Europe, there is growing enthusiasm among the European general aviation community for the use of satellite-based approach systems (SBAS) and, as a result, many general aviation aircraft are now SBAS capable.”

Although the GSA’s EGNOS-based LPV service is free and requires no upgrade to an airport’s ground infrastructure or to existing certified EGNOS receivers, in order to fly LPV one does need procedures, a certified aircraft and a properly trained pilot. “In taking this EGNOS message forward within the GA community, we must continue to focus on its relation to three core pillars: approaches, equipment and pilot training,” says PPL/IR Europe Chairman Paul Sherry.

Pillar I: Procedures

As to the procedures, the GSA and the EGNOS Service Provider (ESSP) work directly with Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) to establish EGNOS Working Agreements, the legal tool that defines the working arrangements between ESSP and the ANSP in charge of the LPV procedure.

To help with this process in the UK, the GSA-is supporting LPV approaches for General Aviation. One of the projects, called GAGA, is working to increase the availability of LPV approach procedures, with a specific focus on GA airports in the UK. “General aviation competes for airspace with commercial aviation, which places severe limitations on the sector’s access to airports,” explains Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) UK CEO Martin Robinson. “Yet at the same time GA contributes GBP 3 billion of gross value added and is responsible for more than 38 000 jobs, so it is important that we support the GA industry.”

GA objectives

  • Increase the availability of LPV approach procedures (focusing on such GA airports as Haverfordwest (EGFE), Gloucestershire (EGBJ) and Stapleford (EGSG)
  • Reduce costs for instrument flight rules (IFR) rating training 
  • Contingency procedures during adverse weather conditions 
  • Implement Independent Pilots Association (IPA) procedures at airports that do not meet International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) requirements for instrument runways 
  • Encourage adoption of EGNOS-based LPV procedures on GA visual flight rules (VFRs) airports with no instrument approach procedures 
  • Promote GNSS technologies within GA 
  • Familiarisation and flight training of pilots to gain experience of GNSS approaches using EGNOS-based procedures

Pillar II: Equipment

Many of the latest GA aircraft come EGNOS-ready, including models from Cessna, Diamond, Piper and Cirrus. For legacy aircraft, the GSA notes they have a complete list of forward and retrofit solutions. 

“GNSS approaches (also known as RNP APCH) are great news for light GA aircraft,” says Sherry. “It’s really the first opportunity to put this PBN avionics equipment into the types of aircraft it was originally built for.”

What this means for GA aircraft and the GA pilot is a greater expectation of automation, less vectors and more procedural approaches. According to Sherry, PBN technology has rapidly evolved over the past decade. “From 1950 to 2000, IFR approach technology was fairly stable, ground-based and involved pretty much the same operation between different manufacturers and different installations,” he says. “But this changed with PBN, which is a complex combination of procedures, infrastructure, air traffic control (ATC), aircraft, avionics and aircrew.”

The GSA facilitates the use of EGNOS for GA in conjunction with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). For example, one major achievement of this collaboration is the development of a multi model list for avionics approved for the most widely used avionics by GA pilots, Garmin GNS430W and GNS530W. Recognising that GA demands cost-effective avionics, having these models approved for LPV capability helps bring the cost down from EUR 10 000 per aircraft registration to just EUR 300 – making EGNOS a realistic option for GA operators.

Pillar III: Training

However, it’s more than just having the right equipment in an aircraft. As the type of equipment is diverse, it is essential that the pilot knows how the technology and equipment in the aircraft works together. “When flying PBN, more reliance is placed on the aircraft and the pilot, as opposed to air traffic control,” adds PPL/IR Europe Director Julian Scarfe. “In other words, with PBN it becomes absolutely crucial that the pilot understands the equipment, procedures and obligations.”

Which leads us to the last point: the pilots themselves. In order to take advantage of LPV procedures, operators typically need specific approval to fly them. This is because LPVs are a relatively new concept that require not only that the aircraft and its cockpit avionics have the corresponding airworthiness approval, but also that pilots have appropriate training, checking standards and operational procedures in place.

Although EASA is currently working to amend some of these regulations, eliminating the burden of having to apply for SPA, all operators will still be required to follow the necessary operational procedures and CAT operators will have to amend their operational manual accordingly as part of their air operator approval from their authorities. On this point, the GSA provides EGNOS training materials via the EGNOS user support website. From August 2018, the core training syllabus for the instrument rating will include PBN concepts, many reliant on EGNOS.

Media note: This feature can be republished without charge provided the European GNSS Agency (GSA) is acknowledged as the source at the top or the bottom of the story. You must request permission before you use any of the photographs on the site. If you republish, we would be grateful if you could link back to the GSA website (http://www.gsa.europa.eu).

Updated: Aug 03, 2016