EGNOS can crack the capacity crunch!

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16 February 2017
The GSA’s Gian-Gherardo Calini speaking at the EBAA debate.

Tackling the looming airspace and airport capacity crunch is one of the main challenges facing the growth of European aviation. But global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), such as the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and Galileo, can provide the key to increased capacity. This was the focus of the European Business Aviation Association’s (EBAA) annual debate at the European Parliament on 9 February, where the European GNSS Agency (GSA) participated.

The event, entitled ‘Tackling the capacity crunch: satellite-based technologies to the rescue’, was hosted at the European Parliament  by Marian-Jean Marinescu, MEP – a leading member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism. He emphasized the importance of EGNOS in opening up capacity and looked forward to the full deployment of GNSS applications, with special focus on the use of EGNOS for navigation and surveillance (ADS-B). Fabio Gamba, the CEO of EBAA, called for “an overall CNS Strategy (Navigation, Com, Surveillance), which includes a revision of the Single European Sky technical mandates”. In this regard, “EBAA is willing to pursue its cooperation with the GSA established under an MoU signed in 2014,” added Gamba. He highlighted the need for Europe to optimize its current capacity as no major new airports would be built in the near future. He stated that Galileo and EGNOS have the “potential to be a game changer” and that “EGNOS can put hundreds of regional and tertiary airports on the map”. This would free up capacity at major hub airports.

Increased accessibility

Spanish MEP Ines Ayala-Sender supported the message stating “Satellite technology could liberate capacity in major hubs while increasing accessibility to regional airports,” and argued that there is a need for a “united approach and overall navigation strategy”.
Paul Flament, Head of Unit for the Galileo/EGNOS programme at the European Commission’s DG GROW reminded the audience that “EGNOS was specifically conceived for the aviation sector” and had been operational since 2011. There are now more than 400 approach procedures in some 20 countries and the performance is excellent. The remaining small areas without coverage in northern Finland and Romania should be completed by 2018 with full localiser performance with vertical guidance (LPV) 200 performance available across the whole of the EU by 2023.

He confirmed that EGNOS technology was also attracting attention outside the EU.  Agreements with the Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) were likely to be signed soon to extend EGNOS over Africa. EGNOS technology had also been purchased by South Korea.

Cost savings

The GSA’s Head of Market Development Gian-Gherardo Calini acknowledged that business aviation is a key market segment for EGNOS. He highlighted the benefits of EGNOS to increase accessibility and safety, and highlighted its potential to reduce congestion in the system. “EGNOS can reduce diversions and cancellations, delivering real cost savings,” he claimed. EGNOS also enables advanced approaches, such as curved segments, resulting in environmental benefits.

Mr Calini was pleased with progress in the EU, pointing out that 25% of business aviation flights are already equipped for LPV, only six years after EGNOS certification. The figure is very close to that in the US, with 32% equipped flights for air taxi operations after 14 years of WAAS operations. He anticipated a further 200 LPV procedures already planned to be operational in the next two years.

The final speaker was Pascal Lhoest, Director of Flight Operations at NetJets Europe. He argued that poor ground installations at airports was a barrier to safe business aviation operations. EGNOS offers the opportunity for business aviation to reach into regional airports and improve access in complex air traffic management environments. The key was getting “the right access to the right airports” and EGNOS is fundamental to achieving this.

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Updated: Feb 20, 2017