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It’s all about access

With the skies becoming increasingly congested, business aviation often finds itself on the outside looking in. To stay viable, the sector is turning to secondary airports, with LPV approaches powered by satellite navigation being the key to access.

According to Eurocontrol statistics, 66% of business flights happen between city pairs lacking daily commercial service. However, because many of these airports are located in demanding environments, landing at one creates new challenges, such as complex approach trajectories. More so, airports located near or within major cities are obligated to develop complex approaches to avoid heavily populated areas. On top of this, many of these so-called secondary airports lack the high-tech equipment found in commercial airports. For example, ILS navigation aids are either limited or nonexistent, increasing the risk of a flight diversion.

As the skies become increasingly congested, business aviation finds itself being pushed out and even shut out of many of the world’s key airports. As accessibility is everything, finding a viable alternative is essential.

Also read: Bizav taps EGNOS for precision-based navigation.

One solution is to use approach procedures with vertical guidance (APV) or localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) approach procedures. These types of approach do not require ground equipment and thus have the potential to enable near-precision approaches for all airports – thus increasing their attractiveness to business aviation.

To illustrate some of the advantages, consider that LPV approaches are designed with a 250-ft decision height (DH) in Europe, although this figure could decrease to 200 ft in the near future. By comparison, the average DH for non-precision approaches (NPAs) is 470 feet in the US. In addition, as the final approach segment of an LPV approach is entirely virtual and not linked to a ground-based guidance system, using different approaches on the same runway end for different aircraft categories is a real possibility.

A very compelling option

In Europe, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) is driving airport accessibility. EGNOS improves accuracy of position measurements by sending out signals that correct GPS data and provide information on reliability. Via its network of nearly 40 reference stations located in more than 20 countries, the system picks up signals from GPS satellites that are then processed in master control centers to determine the accuracy of the original signals based on such factors as electrical disturbances in the atmosphere. The data is incorporated into EGNOS signals and sent to its geostationary satellites, which then relay the signals back to EGNOS-enabled receivers.

“Despite the tough economic times, the growth rate of our sector continues to accelerate, and we will require the infrastructure – namely airports – in order to accommodate this growth,” says EBAA CEO Fabio Gamba. “Our need for flexibility is greatly constrained by existing systems, forcing us to make use of congested airports, which is becoming more and more difficult for the sector.”

“A wider use of LPVs, as provided by EGNOS, is good for business aviation, regional airports, and the entire value chain,” he continues. “Regional airports and smaller airfields appeal to business aviation, but they must improve their attractiveness by offering more precision approaches.”

In fact, the argument in support of EGNOS is so compelling that EBAA and the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA), which oversees EGNOS, have formed a strategic partnership. The two organizations plan to engage in discussions aimed at coordinating future joint venture actions to promote the implementation of EGNOS at key secondary airports. Following an initial meeting held during EBACE2014 in Geneva, EBAA has created a list of high-potential airports.

“The aviation community will benefit greatly from EGNOS because it means safe access to small and medium-sized airports without the need for expensive ground equipment,” says Gamba. “EGNOS is already present in around 100 airports, so we need to ensure that the sector is using it in the best possible way.”

Filling the gap

To demonstrate how EGNOS can increase airport access, Rockwell Collins recently completed the first demonstrations of advanced arrival and departure flight operations using its flight management system (FMS) and global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver. The demonstrations were part of the European Union’s FilGAPP Project – a publicly funded airspace enhancement project focused on “filling the gap” between small airports and approach limitations via the use of satellite-based navigation and advanced FMS functions.

“FilGAPP highlights the opportunity that exists for corporate operators to increase operating capacity and to save time and fuel through more efficient terminal procedures at European airports,” says Rockwell Collins VP & Managing Director EMEA Claude Alber.

The most recent demonstration took place on a Hawker 750 equipped with a Rockwell Collins FMS and GNSS receiver. It was the first time a high-precision and high-integrity missed approach/departure had been performed in Europe. The flights also validated technical and operational independence from the closely spaced ATC systems of two nearby airports, which enabled increased operational capacity for each airport.

By Nick Klenske

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