European collaborations of airlines and air navigation service providers (Ansps) have completed two projects to implement performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures and optimized descent profiles at nearly 20 airports on the continent. The organization managing the Single European Sky ATM Research (Sesar) effort co-funded these efforts and a recently completed demonstration of augmented navigation and vision approaches to airports.
NavBlue, an Airbus-owned flight operations and air traffic management services company, announced completion of the two-year RISE (RNP Implementation Synchronized in Europe) project to design required navigation performance PBN procedures at eight airports in southern Europe. Taking advantage of satellite-based navigation, the project’s aim was to improve airport access and safety of operations by removing circle-to-land approaches, creating shorter track-mile approaches and lowering weather minimums. Project partners conducted more than 500 flight trials and demonstrated 43 PBN procedures at eight airports.
Participating were the Ansps of Cyprus, Greece, Portugal and France; airlines Air France, Novair of Sweden and TAP Portugal; and contributing carriers Aegean, EasyJet, Emirates and Air Corsica. The Sesar Joint Undertaking (SJU) co-financed the project, which NavBlue managed.
The partners designed PBN procedures at Paphos and Larnaca airports in Cyprus; Santorini and Mykonos in Greece; Madeira and Horta in Portugal; and Nice and Ajaccio in France. The project included validating the procedures on a full flight simulator, training controllers and flight demonstrations. ATC training and demonstrations were also conducted at Corfu and Iraklion in Greece.
“This project represented how industry partners can collaborate closely, each bringing their own expertise, to make substantial ecological and financial gains in the aviation industry benefitting all today and in the long term,” stated Paul-Franck Bijou, NavBlue chief commercial officer.
Germany’s Ansp DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung led the two-year, SJU-funded optimized descent profile project, together with the Ansps of Austria, France and Switzerland and Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Center at Maastricht Aachen Airport in the Netherlands. Optimized descents—continuous, gradual descents at minimal power settings—save fuel and reduce noise and emissions.
The partners conducted 11,467 demonstration flights and designed optimal arrival flows to nine airports. Half of 33 analyzed flows have been implemented, and seven are published in the Aeronautical Information Publication, DFS said. “The aim was to develop more efficient descent profiles and reduce the environmental impact in busy and complex airspaces and across borders without compromising safety and capacity aspects,” said DFS project manager Ilhan Akin.
Air France and its regional subsidiary HOP!, Lufthansa and subsidiaries Austrian Airlines and Germanwings, and Swiss International Airlines conducted the demonstration flights to airports at Basel, Berlin Tegel, Frankfurt, Geneva, Munich, Strasbourg, Stuttgart, Vienna and Zurich.
The Brussels-based SJU also announced completion of the Augmented Approaches to Land (AAL) project, a two-year demonstration that variously combined curved navigation tracks, satellite- and ground-basedaugmentation systems (SBAS and GBAS) precision landings and synthetic vision systems. NetJets Europe headed the effort, supported by avionics manufacturer Honeywell and aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation, each of which led technical work packages. Four Ansps, the Frankfurt and Zurich airports and the German Aerospace Center were among other participants.
The partners conducted 360 test flights, more than half of which were performed by Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines on revenue flights using widebody and narrowbody airliners.
Honeywell and Dassault conducted the remaining flights using Falcon 900 and Falcon 7X test aircraft, respectively. Honeywell flew 70 flights at the Brno, Ostrava and Karlovy Vary regional airports in the Czech Republic to evaluate its SmartView synthetic vision guidance system (SVGS). Dassault flew nine flights to evaluate FalconEye, a combined vision system (CVS) it developed with Elbit Systems.
“Curved satellite-based navigation connected to precision landing systems will enable environmentallyfriendly procedures everywhere and in all conditions,” the SJU said. “Following these procedures, a commercial airliner will be able to conduct a zero-visibility automatic landing at a hub using GBAS technology, while the pilot can be supported by augmented vision for better situational awareness. A business jet will also be able to fly a stable and efficient precision approach at most small and regional airports thanks to SBAS technology, and land in all weather conditions supported by augmented vision.”