Preparations underway to use EGNOS for aviation

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20 September 2010

European air navigation service providers are preparing to use EGNOS Safety-of-Life service when it is certified for the aviation sector later this year.

Representatives from providers in France, the UK, Spain, Italy, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and Germany exchanged updates at a recent meeting in Brussels of their plans to test and use EGNOS for aviation after it is certified in November this year. The meeting was organised by the GSA on 25 June as a follow up to one held in March during Galileo Application Days.

European air navigation service providers exchanged updates of their plans to test and use EGNOS for aviation. © Ahmed ElAminEuropean air navigation service providers exchanged updates of their plans to test and use EGNOS for aviation. © Ahmed ElAmin

Francisco Salabert, of Eurocontrol's GNSS Policy Office, kicked-off the presentations by describing the benefits EGNOS would bring to the aviation sector under the EU's Single European Sky II programme.

Satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS) such as EGNOS provide good operational benefits and are a cost-efficient solution for general and business aircraft and helicopters, and for regional airports, he said.

EGNOS is a key factor in meeting the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s call for all instrument flight rules (IFR) airports to have a vertical guidance system in place by 2016, Salabert added.
The use of EGNOS for approach with vertical guidance (APV) landings provides pilots with a continuous glide path and guidance, increasing safety and reducing the height when a pilot must decide whether to continue or abort a landing.

“There are strategic and operational objectives for using EGNOS in terms of capacity, safety, the environment and lower costs,” Salabert said. As EGNOS will not be specifically mandated under SES II, it remained up to the individual airlines and airports to determine whether the operational benefits outweigh the costs.

While EGNOS will not be specifically mandated under SES II, there are “three de-facto GNSS mandates with different requirements” in three sets of rules, of which only one has been approved, he said.

Preparing the way

To help pave the way, Eurocontrol has launched projects in France, the UK and Poland to implement APV approach procedures using EGNOS at regional airports. The procedures will enable vertically guided approaches to runways not equipped with instrument landing aids, thus improving airport access and flight safety.

In France, the project involves equipping and certifying a Beluga aircraft this year with LPV capability and publishing an LPV procedure using EGNOS for Pau’s airport. DGAC, France’s air navigation service provider, has completed the design, flight validation and local safety assessments for the approach procedure.

DSNA teamed up with EgisAvia and Airbus Transport International to equip the Beluga with the necessary avionics.  A new GNSS unit will be added with SBAS capability and the flight management system software will be upgraded to allow APV/SBAS approaches to be flown.

The DSNA has also prepared an APV/SBAS procedure for Clermond-Ferrand, which will be part of a network of regional airports where airlines can use EGNOS-enabled LPV approaches.

The project participants have prepared an initial business case to assess the costs and the potential benefits of using EGNOS at the three airports: Clermont Ferrand, Pau and Saint Nazaire.

The DSNA is also part of the Accepta project, which received funding through the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme to publish intially three LPV procedures in France, said Michel Calvet of DGAC.

APV/SBAS procedures will also be designed for airports at Toussus-le-Noble, Albert Bray and Bordeaux this year, he said. Two procedures for helicopters in Marseille are underway. From next year onwards, France plans to publish 15 APV/SBAS procedures a year. A procedure for Toulouse is being considered for 2012 for the Airbus A350, he added.

Stimulating interest in the UK

In the UK, NATS teamed up with Aurigny, a small airline operating flights to the Channel Islands, to develop APV/SBAS approach procedures for airports at Southampton and in Alderney.

Alderney has no instrument landing system and due to the weather, delays, diversions and cancellations often occur. The use of EGNOS for an APV landing approach procedure would reduce these figures and provide easier access to the airport, said Ken Ashton, of the UK’s NATS.

The airline will equip one of its Trislander aircraft with the required avionics and apply for airworthiness certification.  If the project is successful, the airline will consider upgrading eight other aircraft.
“We have to stimulate interest in the industry in using EGNOS,” Ashton said. “This project is not an SBAS demonstration. The prime objectives are to implement a beneficial and certified SBAS operation and to ensure that processes and procedures are available for future use.”

In Poland, PANSA, the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency, teamed up with Pildo Labs, a consulting firm in the field of aeronautics, the air navigation services of the Czech Republic, ADV Systems, Helios and Royal Star Aero to look at the benefits of EGNOS APV approaches for Polish and Czech airports.

Royal Star Aero is based in Mielec, a town in a region that the Polish government wants to develop as a special economic zone. A Piper Seneca II will be upgraded with the equipment needed to land with EGNOS and is being certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency.

The project will implement APV/SBAS approach procedures at Katowice airport and develop a safety case for a procedure for Mielec that has already been designed and will be flight tested in another project.

The project will also perform a study of Czech airports and identify candidate airports where APV/SBAS procedures would provide the most benefits.

A preference for EGNOS

In Spain, APV based on SBAS is the preferred solution due to increased safety and better access to airports, said Aitor Álvarez-Rodríguez of Aena. Spain has agreed to implement Eurocontrol’s European Convergence and Implementation Plan NAV-08 objective to “enable the implementation of approach procedures with vertical guidance using SBAS”.

“The intention is to publish LPV, LNAV/VNAV and LNAV minima in each and every RNAV GNSS approach procedure,” he said. “To date, APV SBAS procedures to some Spanish airports have already been designed and, most of them, tested through flight trials, for a total of 14 runway ends in 10 different airports.”

The procedures already designed cover the 13% of the total of instrumental runway ends in Spain. In addition, Air Nostrum and Airbus Transport International have shown an interest in using SBAS approach procedures.

In Switzerland, aircraft navigation services provider Skyguide has participated in aircraft and helicopter flight trials using EGNOS through the FP7-funded projects GIANT 2 and HEDGE.

Skyguide plans to publish and implement operational EGNOS-based LPV procedures in Switzerland, said Marc Troller, the company’s representative. Through the programme, the country’s first LPV procedures using EGNOS are being designed for Les Eplatures and Altenrhein.  Skyguide also participates in the FP7-funded Accepta project.

EGNOS and aviation

EGNOS augments the GPS signal, making it more accurate while also sending an integrity message as to whether it is performing up to standards suitable for use in situations where lives could be at stake.

EGNOS’ Safety-of-Life Service, intended for safety-critical applications, is on course to be launched in November 2010 after certification for use by the aviation sector. The process requires the certification of the designated service provider, ESSP, under ‘Single European Sky’ regulations, which happened on 12 July 2010.

EGNOS’ Open Service was launched on 1 October 2009 and is available to anyone with a GPS receiver compatible with satellite-based augmentation systems.

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More information:

EGNOS Portal: Aviation
Accepta Project

Updated: Sep 01, 2014