Implementing EGNOS-enabled Localizer Performance with Vertical guidance (LPV) approaches at small and medium size aerodromes across Europe will bring big benefits for general aviation and other aircraft users. However, each runway approach requires an individual design and gaining regulatory approval can be complex. Now the GSA co-funded project GAGA is using its work to implement LPV approaches at three UK aerodromes to provide a template that could accelerate the implementation process for general aviation aerodromes in the UK and other Member States.
The GSA co-funded project ‘GNSS Approaches for General Aviation’ (GAGA) was presented at the AERO 2017 trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany as part of a series of GSA-organised ‘mini conferences’. Martin Robinson, CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) in the UK, presented the GAGA project, which is fostering the design, development and implementation of EGNOS-based operations, including approach procedures, at three small aerodromes.
Specifically, the project is designing and implementing LPV approaches for three UK aerodromes: Gloucester, Haverford West in Wales and Stapleford just north of London.
Initially the team plans what is required to implement the procedure, develops the safety case, collects relevant data and examines any airfield-specific issues for the approaches. This is then sent to the actual approach designers and the designed approach is flight validated before the paperwork is delivered to the regulatory authority: the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
“One of the unique aspects of GAGA is that we involve the CAA in the process from the start to finish,” says Robinson. “This means there are no surprises, no show-stoppers and any issues are addressed early. This makes for a much more efficient process.”
The CAA has nominated case officers for each aerodrome and the GAGA team has worked closely with them at every stage of the design and implementation of the LPV procedures. In particular, this close cooperation with the CAA has helped the regulator to understand better how implementing such approaches can be undertaken within the spirit of the current regulatory structure – in particular the CAA regulation CAP 1122. This describes the application of instrument approach procedures to aerodromes without an instrumented runway and/or approach control.
This should enable a wider deployment of EGNOS-enabled approaches not only at UK aerodromes but at other non-instrument aerodromes in Europe whilst providing continuing assurance in terms of safety and adhering to current policy through the adoption of a risk-based approach.
“This is the future already,” says Robinson. “We will be producing a guidance document developed from our experience in the projects – a kind of ‘how you can do it’ guide – that can be used by stakeholders in other Member States to work with their regulators to achieve successful LPV implementation.”
“EGNOS and LPVs really provide a great service for the general aviation community,” says Robinson. “Cost for larger airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick is huge, and smaller aerodromes like Stapleford are ideal alternatives.”
And having LPV capability is good news for business aviation operators and air ambulances, as this means that they can now operate from the aerodromes even in low visibility.
Martin Robinson cites other business opportunities that arise following LPV implementation. “Instrument flight training can be done in situ at the airfield, which improves safety training,” he explains. “For example, at Gloucester trainee pilots will be able to experience flying approaches to city airports in a real aircraft under real conditions rather than in a simulator. Training is a very good side business for smaller airports.”
“And with LPV at both Gloucester and Stapleford suddenly it becomes economically viable to operate a daily business service between the two airfields that is cost comparable with the train,” he continues.
“The major advantage for the Haverford West aerodrome is that business jets now have a guaranteed approach in all weathers,” Robinson concludes. “The field is close to a major oil and gas facility and many US business jets use the field. US pilots understand SBAS-based procedures like EGNOS and are used to flying these types of approaches.”
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