Three regional airlines were honoured at the ERA’s annual meeting in Dublin for their pioneering use of EGNOS technology
They have led the way in applying the satellite landing system from EGNOS, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, and are expected to reap the benefits from their safer and greener technology: on September 20 regional airlines Aurigny, CityJet and Air Nostrum were recognised with special awards from EGNOS itself. The three were presented with EGNOS Awards at the European Regional Airlines Association (ERA) General Assembly in Dublin, which gathered some 500 senior-level executives from throughout European air transport sector.
Aurigny, based in the Channel Islands, received the Gold Award. It is Europe’s first regional airline to use the EGNOS satellite landing system to make it easier to land at Alderney Airport. The airline trialled the system for a year before using it for operations in December 2011.
Securing Alderney connections
David Rice, Aurigny’s Flight Operations Director, said it allowed planes to land in worse weather than currently possible – and improved the long-term viability of the air service. “It means low visibility approaches to Alderney can be made that would perhaps not otherwise have been possible,” he said.
Aurigny has operated in and out of Alderney for over forty years, providing year-round, 24-hour medical evacuation flights on its short runway, often in adverse weather conditions. But unlike many other European airports, Alderney is too small to justify the cost of an expensive instrument landing system (ILS). “EGNOS is safe, reliable, cheap, and environmentally friendly,” said Rice. “You can get an instrument approach for airports that you might not have been able to access before.”
Aurigny’s entire six-aircraft fleet is set to use EGNOS from October 2012. “We heard about it at a very early stage, and saw it had the potential to be very good. We wanted to be there from an early stage,” said Rice. “It has, to some extent, ensured we can maintain reliable commercial operations. It means fewer delays and on those foggy days we're going to be able to get flying sooner than we currently can."
Air Nostrum and CityJet sign on
Air Nostrum, the biggest regional airline in Spain, received one of the two EGNOS Silver Awards for upgrading its current fleet to use the service. Air Nostrum Managing Director Miguel Falcón said the airline was planning to install EGNOS systems on 10 ATR 72 aircraft and on 30 Bombardier CRJ1000s. He also highlighted how it would cut costs, greenhouse gases and noise. “Essentially it means much more efficient routes, and more environmentally friendly, saving fuel on approaches as burn less fuel and save time,” he said.
Air Nostrum, part of Iberia, was named ERA regional airline of year in 2011. It estimates that using EGNOS across its fleet will lead to fuel savings of about €6.3 million over ten years. “Conceptually it will be a very great saving in navigation. You will simply need an antenna to pick up the signals. So it will be an incredibly valuable navigation system, Falcón said. “In time, we will incorporate it as our standard system.
The second Silver Award was given to CityJet. Christine Ourmières, CityJet’s CEO, said the company was currently installing EGNOS systems on eight of their 13 Fokker 50 propeller aircraft. “We are jumping to EGNOS for reasons of cost and improved navigation,” she said. “We did some analyses and found fuel savings, and comfort for our crew – they feel better, safer, and it is a modern tool.”
CityJet, with headquarters near Dublin, is a subsidiary of Air France-KLM. Ourmières said it essentially extended the viability of the fleet. “You are always asking whether or not the fleet is too old. With EGNOS, even with a 25-year old aircraft, you know that the technology is good,” she said. “For the team it is a great achievement, we are very proud.”
The awards were presented by GSA’s Aviation Market Development Officer Hans de With who pointed out the market benefits from using EGNOS. “EGNOS makes it easier to take off and land in poor weather, when visibility is low, meaning fewer cancellations, delays and diversions to other airports, helping airlines to save money and keeping travellers on schedule,” he said. “It is a good sign that regional airlines are using the system as it shows how it can be a real tool with benefits for airports, operating companies and citizen passengers."
An independent cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the GSA and published in 2009 indicated that the benefits for Europe’s aviation sector will add up to €2.4 billion by 2030. Of this, about €1.2 billon will be saved due to reduced flight delays, diversions and cancellations. Another €900 million in benefits will be due to the reduction of Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) collisions. And €300 million will be saved due to the phasing out of infrastructure navaids.