EBACE Convention News

European bizav told to equip for EGNOS

 - May 23, 2007, 10:23 AM

One of Eurocontrol’s senior navigation managers says the business aviation community should be acting now to prepare for the introduction of the EGNOS (European geostationary navigation overlay service) augmented satellite approach and landing system.

“People or companies ordering new aircraft should be ordering the necessary avionics now if they want to avoid excessive retrofit costs,” said Roland Rawlings, Eurocontrol’s navigation domain manager for airspace/flow management and navigation.

However, Rawlings, who led the introduction of basic area navigation and reduced vertical separation minimums in Europe, discounts the EBAA’s worries about the introduction of EGNOS.

EBAA chief executive Brian Humphries told EBACE Convention News earlier this week (see Tuesday, May 22, page 25) that EGNOS would be “absolutely essential” to open up smaller airfields to Category 1 approaches. “But the airlines don’t want to pay for it because they won’t be using it.” 

Rawlings said he wonders how many business aircraft operators will actually need the system. “The question is, how many of them really need to operate into smaller airports in all weather?” He adds that there are already “other means” of performing approaches in today’s instrument landing system environment. “People forget that EGNOS does not yet provide for anything but a straight in approach.”

Operators wishing to install the system in existing aircraft will need to purchase a wide-area augmentation system (WAAS) receiver, add the necessary wiring and then certify it for use in that particular aircraft–and possibly for the operation as well. Rawlings puts the cost at “somewhat less than a million dollars,” but added that the cost becomes “marginal” if the equipment is installed when the aircraft is ordered.

EGNOS is in pre-operational service and will be certified next year, providing users with the potential for a better than two-meter vertical navigation precision. The European Space Agency, one of the bodies developing the system, said that in March availability was “well above” 99 percent. An EGNOS initial operations user support Web site went online last month.

Meanwhile, at a seminar held at EBACE yesterday morning, Rawlings expressed doubts about the timescale for introduction of the four-dimensional precision navigation system that will replace EGNOS and other navigation systems. Under the SESAR (the Single European Sky research program) technology development, next year will see the beginning of the Joint Undertaking that will see through the development of the system to 2020.

“We’ll see whether 2020 is really possible,” said Rawlings. There are no studies or requirements yet for a 4-D system and we have to think about how we introduce it into a mixed environment where some users will not be equipped to use it.”

The aim of the eventual 4-D system is to increase capacity reduce environmental impact and cost, said Rawlings. “We need to begin implementing required navigation performance criteria in 2015 as a major step toward 4-D,” he added. “It looks very, very optimistic to me because there are no standards and industry hasn’t built anything.”