The Groningen Airport Eelde (GAE) is pioneering satellite-based landing procedures in the Netherlands with the publication of two LPV (Localiser Performance with Vertical Guidance) procedures. These new, EGNOS-enabled procedures improve accuracy and safety when aircraft land in a cost effective way. This development was supported by the European GNSS Agency (GSA) funded FP7 project ACCEPTA that is working to implement LPV procedures across Europe.
EGNOS is Europe’s Satellite-based Augmentation System (SBAS) enables satellite navigation systems to meet the operational requirements set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for the most critical phases of aircraft flight, in particular landing.
Situated in the north of the Netherlands, GAE is an international airport close to the city of Groningen that offers passenger flights to destinations such as Spain, Greece, Portugal and Turkey.
In 2013 the main runway was extended to 2,500 metres to allow the potential for longer distance destinations and the use of heavier aircraft.
This small but growing airport currently handles half a dozen commercial flights per day. It is also a base for charter operators, general aviation and is home to two flight academies. During 2012 the airport handled over 208,660 passengers and some 46,418 individual aircraft movements.
The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment and LVNL (the Air Traffic Control authority for the Netherlands) are working to improve access and safety in their airspace by implementing approaches with vertical guidance to all Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) runways in the country. The airport at Groningen was chosen because one of the main runway ends (05) was not yet equipped with precision approach (ILS) infrastructure.
“One runway was equipped for ILS, but the other runway end only had a conventional non-precision approach,” explains Alex Gibbs an Air Traffic Management expert with the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) who led the project for implementing the LPV approaches at Groningen.
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“Using LPV approaches brings a big benefit in terms of safety for aircraft operators at an airport as the vertically guided minima is down to 250 feet,” he says. “This also helps in terms of increasing the accessibility and potential capacity of the airport and improves reliability for customers,”
Gibbs further notes the benefits to the airport’s flight schools: “The flight academies that operate at the airport are training future commercial pilots,” he says. “It is very useful to have the ability to train on both ILS and LPV approaches and allow new pilots to get acquainted with GNSS-based approaches and the concepts of performance-based navigation.”
LVNL is now considering plans to equip other airports under its civil control with GNSS approach procedures using EGNOS LPV.
The GSA-funded FP7 project ACCEPTA assisted with the LPV design and publication procedure and also provided the majority of the funding for certified EGNOS receiver equipment for aircraft operators at the airport. Additional funding was made available by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment to assure timely implementation and overall project management was undertaken by NLR.
“ACCEPTA is a very large project to assist the implementation of LPV approaches across Europe through two aspects: assistance to design and implement LPV approaches at airports, and to help equip aircraft with certified avionics to use the published procedures,” says Victor Gordo of Spanish company INECO who is the coordinator for the ACCEPTA project.
“In total some 84 runway ends are included in the ACCEPTA programme, and so far 24 LPV procedures have been published through ACCEPTA, including locations in the UK, Spain, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland and now the Netherlands,” he says. “Although this has involved a lot of work, the adoption of EGNOS and the promotion of LPV procedures is paramount to ensuring access to Europe’s smaller airports.”
Before the project conclusion in December 2014, Victor hopes to see an additional 16 runway ends adopt EGNOS-based LPV procedures. ACCEPTA is directly responsible for the publishing of 25% of Europe’s LPV procedures.
“The project has had lots of success in implementing procedures and equipping aircraft with certified receivers, now the challenge is to further disseminate the results and show what benefits EGNOS and LPV can bring,” concludes Victor.
A final ACCEPTA workshop on 1 December in Madrid showcased the benefits of EGNOS-based LPV to stakeholders of the aviation sector.
Today, LPV procedures are already in use in more than 100 airports across Europe, providing a cost effective alternative equivalent to conventional ILS CAT I instrument landing procedures. LPV offers similar performance without the need for significant investments in on-site infrastructure installation and maintenance and is becoming a very valuable navigation aid to small and medium-size airports, increasing safety and accessibility of aerodromes and users.
Victor Gordo, ACCEPT project coordinator
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