The European GNSS Agency (GSA) joined the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), together with service providers, to discuss how EGNOS is the key to ensuring the industry’s access to airports.
In recent years, the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) has seen a steady increase in demand for business aviation. Given the significant time, infrastructure and other resources required to fill this demand, available airport space has dwindled. As large airports become more and more congested, the resulting lack of space is forcing business aviation to smaller and usually less-equipped airports. Unfortunately, all too often these small airports lack the funding needed to support the expensive ground infrastructure required for traditional, precision landing procedures.
In a sense, this leaves business aviation with nowhere to land – a challenge that threatens the viability of the industry. “Airport access is paramount to our industry,” says EBAA President Brian Humphries, speaking at a dedicated session on satellite navigation and airport access during the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva. “We have to get into the airports as, without access, there is essentially no business aviation.”
Fortunately, according to Humphries, the problem can be resolved. “The capacity crunch at Europe’s major airports is the problem, but we already have the solution – and that solution is the hundreds of regional airports found across the continent,” he says. “Yet, even with the answer right in front of us, we’re not using them because all too often these regional airports lack the technology needed for business aircraft to land safely.”
Which is exactly where the GSA comes in.
An affordable alternative to ILS
As an alternative to costly, ground-based instrument landing procedures (ILS) navigation aids, technology such as EGNOS, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, utilises geostationary satellites and a network of ground stations to receive, analyse and augment 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 (localizer performance with vertical guidance) 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 navigation aids, but without the same financial burden of installing, maintaining and calibrating ground equipment. In fact, the LPV-200 system is free and requires no additional upgrades to existing airport infrastructure or EGNOS-certified receivers.
“The GSA continues to use EGNOS to open new airports and increase traffic, allowing business aviation to do more business,” says GSA Head of Market Development Gian Gherardo Calini. According to Calini, there are currently 350 EGNOS-based procedures published throughout Europe, with the aim being to have over 440 published by 2018.
In fact, just this month the first LPV-200 approaches were published at Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG). The approach trials were flown by an ATR 42-600, a Dassault Falcon 2000 and an Airbus A350, with positive pilot feedback. According to Dassault flight test pilot Jean-Louis Dumas, from a pilot’s point of view, there is no difference between ILS and LPV approaches as the design of the Falcon EASY cockpit and the overall workload is exactly the same for both.
“The accuracy and stability of the LPV guidance is really amazing,” says Calini. “Lowering the LPV minima down to 200 feet in Europe is a great improvement enabled by EGNOS, and is very valuable for business aviation operations.”
In addition to supporting precision landings, the fact that EGNOS is not tied to a ground-based system of guidance equipment means that different categories of aircraft could potentially use different approaches on the same runway end. EGNOS is also compatible with other satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS) worldwide, meaning that users of SBAS can benefit from significant cooperation between providers in overlapping coverage areas. The EGNOS signal itself is free, allowing for unfettered use and greater opportunities for innovation.
Industry support leads to growth
The EGNOS proposition is one that has industry-wide support, including from operators, service providers and airports.
“There’s more and more demand on the main hubs, especially as low-cost carriers continue to grow,” says Skyguide Sales and Business Development Manager Laurent Delétraz. “As you can’t add more slots, we need to send smaller aircraft to regional airports.”
One such airport is Switzerland’s Sion airport, located high in the Swiss Alps. “The implementation of the LPV approach will open our airport to an array of aircraft that simply cannot currently access Sion” says Sion Airport Director Aline Bovier.”
“To get to the point, what we need is access,” says Netjets Europe pilot Pascal Lhoest, who notes that all of his company’s new jets are LPV-enabled. “If we don’t have airport access, our business model just doesn’t work, so we all have a role to play to make this happen.”
Clearly, this cost-effective, easily implemented technology is the ideal method for business aviation to expand airport capacity and meet demand, as well as ensure that flights run safely and smoothly – and one that the EBAA and GSA continue to collaborate closely on. On this point, Calini praised the use of EGNOS for business aviation, noting that “EGNOS is increasing accessibility to smaller airports and enhancing safety via increased situational awareness”.
This is a sentiment shared by the EBAA. “When you talk about safe access to regional airports without the need for expensive ground instruments, then satellite navigation systems become a very compelling option for business aviation,” says Humphries. “As you saw here today, we have the technology, we have the support of the service providers, most aircraft are already equipped and the regional airports want it. And now, with the support of the GSA and work with the European Commission, it’s time to make it happen.”
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 global navigation satellite system (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 budget for each call. The first call awarded funding for EGNOS procedures at 36 airports, 8 point-in-space (PinS) procedures at 7 helipads, the retrofitting of 65 aircraft by 5 operators and 3 simulator upgrades. The second call is still subject to grant agreement finalisations. For more info about possible further calls, please check our website.
Read more: EGNOS and Galileo for Aviation
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).