EU initiative achieves greater airport safety with 3D GNSS

July 16, 2018  - By
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The European Union (EU) project BLUEGNSS has been developing GNSS applications in selected European airports to increase safety and airport accessibility, according to the European Commission’s Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS).

BLUEGNSS’s focus has been on advancing the adoption of the Galileo system in Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Malta. The four countries together form the Blue Med functional airspace block (FAB): airspace in which air traffic is managed irrespective of national boundaries. Blue Med is one of the nine FABs formed in Europe to reduce the fragmentation of the European air traffic network.

Three-dimensional GNSS approaches are being designed for 11 airports in the Blue Med FAB: four each in Greece and Italy, two in Cyprus and one in Malta.

The primary aim is to harmonize the implementation of required navigation performance approaches among the four countries, CORDIS said. This will enable aircraft to fly along precise flight paths with greater accuracy, and will make it possible to pinpoint aircraft position with precision and integrity.

Three new procedures. So far, substantial progress has been made towards safety and airport accessibility in the target countries. Since the beginning of 2018, three new GNSS procedures have been validated for Italian airports Cuneo, Lamezia and Parma, followed by another two for Larnaca and Paphos in Cyprus.

The poor weather conditions under which the Cyprus GNSS approaches were validated served to demonstrate the benefits of GNSS vertical guidance. Since its launch in 2016, BLUEGNSS has designed and validated 14 GNSS procedures.

Augmented performance of Galileo has been achieved through the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS). EGNOS is a satellite-based augmentation system that improves GNSS positioning. Its three satellites and network of more than 39 reference stations in 24 countries enable it to provide greater accuracy than Galileo alone.

EGNOS’s safety advantages and lower investment costs greatly benefit small and regional airports, which usually can’t afford the high costs of installing and maintaining ground-based navigation aids.

For this reason, BLUEGNSS has promoted its use in this geographically challenging Mediterranean region.

“The southeast Mediterranean region lacks full EGNOS coverage,” said GNSS expert Patrizio Vanni of ENAV S.p.A., project coordinator and Italy’s air navigation service provider. “To make things even more challenging, each airport involved in the project presents a very different operational environment.”

The project hasn’t only focused on designing and validating GNSS approaches at airports where no such procedures have been available up to now. It has also provided the necessary training and monitoring to support implementation by the Blue Med FAB countries.

Now close to completion, BLUEGNSS (Promoting EGNSS Operational Adoption in Blue Med FAB) is the first project of its kind to be coordinated at FAB level. It may serve as a catalyst to spread required navigation performance approach know-how in the region and beyond, to the whole of Europe.

(Photo: EU)

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s sister website, Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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