GSA Flight Event Celebrated, Demonstrated EGNOS

June 11, 2015  - By

Screenshot from GSA video. See full GSA Flight Event 2015 video below.

News from the European GNSS Agency

Since its certification for civil aviation in 2011, EGNOS — the European satellite-based augmentation system — has been making flights in Europe safer, greener and more efficient. To celebrate this achievement and further promote EGNOS, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) in collaboration with the European Commission, invited the media and European aviation stakeholders for a unique EGNOS Flight Event in Toulouse, France, May 6-7.

Today, more than 140 airports in 15 countries across Europe benefit from EGNOS — with many more preparing for implementation. 171 LPV (localizer performance with vertical guidance) and 86 BARO approaches are already certified for use.

To highlight this impact, the EGNOS Flight Event, organized in collaboration with the European Commission, ESSP, ATR and Airbus, brought together aviation media and other sector stakeholders for a comprehensive briefing and demonstration of EGNOS, how it works and its significant benefits for the aviation sector. Along with flight demonstrations, the event assembled a unique array of EGNOS-experienced players — from pilots to operators, service providers and air traffic managers – to discuss how EGNOS is reshaping the future of air transportation in Europe.

Across-the-Board Benefits

Commercial, business and general aviation are all key market segments for EGNOS. For example, business and general aviation operators need to get to meetings as quickly and efficiently as possible, often requiring landing at smaller airports where Instrument Landing System (ILS) or other expensive ground-based navigation aids are simply not feasible. Thus, the implementation of EGNOS-based procedures at these airports significantly improves accessibility. “EGNOS, Europe’s first satellite navigation system, already has a good success story to tell,” says GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides. “EGNOS delivers continuous integrity protection in compliance with ICAO standards, allowing Cat I approaches with over 99 % availability. Today, 142 airports across Europe are benefitting from EGNOS — and the number is growing steadily.”

According to GSA Head of Market Development Gian Gherardo Calini, the Agency has the capacity to support airports and operators wanting to benefit from EGNOS. For example, this year the Agency has allotted €6 million to co-fund projects to implement EGNOS in aviation. A similar amount had also been allocated in 2014.

Airborne with EGNOS

Demonstrations of EGNOS included a briefing on EGNOS for rotorcraft and with the presentation of the GARDEN project. The project is using EGNOS to enable increased safety and better access for helicopters, for example, enabling air ambulances to access city centre hospitals. Participants were also given a first-hand look at EGNOS implementation in the cockpit of an Airbus H175 rotorcraft.

EGNOS in action was demonstrated by a series of flights using EGNOS for landing procedures with an ATR 42-600 turboprop, which was equipped with additional avionics in the main cabin so invited media could witness the technology at work. The flight demonstration took off from the Blagnac Airport in Toulouse, the venue for the EGNOS event, for a 15 minute circuit around Toulouse beforedemonstrating an EGNOS LPV approach and landing.

EGNOS for A350

A highlight on the tarmac was the Airbus A350WXB. Participants were given a tour of this new, state-of-the-art wide-bodied airliner — including a simulation of an EGNOS-enabled LPV landing in the cockpit. Airbus test pilot Jean-Christophe Lair described the A350’s new Satellite-based Landing System (SLS) that works with Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) such as EGNOS. This is the first time such a system has been installed on a wide body airliner and will be supplied as a standard feature to customers.

According to Lair, EGNOS is fully integrated into a common, harmonised landing system interface on the A350 – the SLS. This allows the pilot to fly precision approaches like an ILS with geometrical vertical guidance down to 200 feet. This new navigation system will provide Airbus operators a wider range of solutions to optimise operations and increase accessibility without any compromise to safety.

EGNOS Expansion

The potential for expansion of EGNOS/SBAS is huge both in terms of global coverage and potential for use in Europe.

GSA Head of EGNOS Exploitation, Jean-Marc Piéplu, outlined the future upgrade of the system from the current Version 2 to EGNOS Version 3. “Version three will feature new capabilities, including dual frequency and dual-constellation with both GPS and Galileo,” he said.

This extension could potentially widen EGNOS/SBAS global coverage for aviation to over 90%. When asked about the timescale for this extension of coverage, Piéplu indicated that if the political will was there to implement, then this could be accomplished in 10 years as there were no outstanding technical issues.

According to International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Association (IAOPA) Senior Vice President Martin Robinson, there is a huge potential for growth in Europe. Currently there are 4,649 aerodromes in Europe and some 50,000 general aviation aircraft operating. Compared to the US, only a fraction of these are SBAS enabled. In the US, the larger uptake of WAAS is due to a deliberate government-led industrial policy.

“Europe still lags behind the United States and there’s definitely room for growth,” said Robinson. “EGNOS will help to provide greater access to aerodromes throughout Europe and improve safety — but we need to be quicker if we are to realize these benefits sooner.”