French aviation's strong support for EGNOS recognised

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11 April 2011

At the recent ATC Global conference and exhibition in Amsterdam, the GSA, together with EGNOS service provider ESSP, presented an award to France's Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne (DGAC/DSNA), the French Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), for being the first to publish an EGNOS approach procedure at Pau airport.

Jean-Michel Crenais of ESSP, with Carlos des Dorides and Maurice GeorgesJean-Michel Crenais of ESSP, with Carlos des Dorides and Maurice Georges

“Satellite navigation is a natural evolution for the aviation sector and introduces a major paradigm shift for technologies supporting Air Traffic Control and Management over the last several decades," says European GNSS Agency (GSA) Executive Director, Carlo des Dorides. "Using EGNOS, the European satellite-based augmentation system, now certified for civil aviation, is the first step in that direction."

To use the new Safety-of-Life service, made available by the ESSP on 2 March 2011, airports must have EGNOS-specific landing procedures for their runways and aircraft need to be equipped with EGNOS-enabled receivers.

A group effort

The DGAC/DSNA has long played a central role in French aviation, responsible for safety and security, working to ensure good environmental performance, overseeing regulation and training, and acting as a partner and service provider to industrial interests and owners.

"From the beginning, our French partners have been among the most supportive and enthusiastic about EGNOS for aviation," says des Dorides.

"We have been working for several years on the publication of EGNOS-based approach procedures," explains Michel Calvet of the Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne (DSNA), the DGAC division responsible for the new procedure, "and we have brought this expertise to a consortium that includes Eurocontrol, EGIS AVIA, Airbus Transport, and others, working together on the Pau EGNOS procedure."

When presented with the special award, DSNA General Director, Maurice Georges, thanked ESSP and the GSA and said, "This first publication marks the beginning of a series of EGNOS landing procedures for French airspace, starting at airports where our operators and users have identified a specific need, with a view to improving safety and accessibility, and then continuing to cover all of our runways."

Before the Award ceremony, ESSP President Dirk Werquin also announced the signature of the first EGNOS Working Agreement between the ESSP and the DGAC/DSNA. EGNOS Working Agreements are necessary to settle the conditions of service between the ESSP, as the EGNOS Services Provider, and the different ANSPs willing to implement this service.

“We expect to have discussions with other European ANSPs on such Working Agreements during this first year,” Mr. Werquin said. “This means there is a real interest among European ANSPs in using EGNOS. This first agreement between DGAC/DSNA and ESSP opens the path towards real EGNOS-based service implementation in France and across the ECAC [European Civil Aviation Conference] area, and the ESSP will pursue actively this objective.”

A better way to land

Officials at the (GSA) say EGNOS will make today's expensive ILS Cat 1 systems unnecessary. "The DSNA's long term strategic plan includes the phasing out of these instruments as anything more than a reduced backup network, and publishing an EGNOS procedure for every one of the 201 existing IFR runways in France," says the GSA's Hans de With. "Other countries will follow suit, if only to comply with ICAO APV requirements and the PBN implementation plan."

What it all means

ILS – An Instrument Landing System (ILS) is a ground-based system that provides precision guidance to an aircraft approaching and landing on a runway, using a combination of radio signals and, in many cases, high-intensity lighting arrays to enable safe landing during certain meteorological conditions, such as low ceilings or reduced visibility due to fog, rain, or blowing snow.

Cat 1 – Runway ILS radio signals are placed in categories depending on their quality – the better the quality, the higher the category. For a pilot to approach a runway, weather conditions must meet certain requirements, specified for each category. The highest category is Cat 3C. The basic performance level is Cat 1, supporting, where permitted by obstacles, a minimum descent height of 200 ft (60 m) and minimum visibility of 800 metres.

IFR – Instrument Flight Rules are one of two sets of regulations governing all aspects of civil aviation aircraft operations; the other are Visual Flight Rules (VFR).

PBN – Performance Based Navigation is a new initiative of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Its aim is to improve safety and efficiency and to reduce the environmental impact of aviation operations. EGNOS based APV approaches are implemented in compliance with PBN approach operation standards.

At the award ceremony in Amsterdam, des Dorides said, "The European Commission and the European GNSS Agency would like to honour the French ANSP for their pioneering work in making EGNOS a reality for the aviation community. Indeed, we are very happy to see that after all the hard work done in recent years there is now a first procedure published and ready to provide vertical guidance at Pau airport in the Midi Pyrenees region."

Georges said, "The Pau EGNOS procedure is the result of strong co-operation within DSNA services involved in the definition and development of our voluntary GNSS strategy, which includes the production, validation and certification of EGNOS procedures.

"We now plan to produce more than a dozen new approach procedures per year for our users, and I invite all of my European colleagues to develop many more EGNOS procedures, to offer increased safety and better accessibility to airports based on EGNOS."

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Updated: Sep 03, 2014