EBACE Convention News

European Commission Struggles to Broaden Egnos Acceptance

 - May 20, 2015, 10:20 AM
This map illustrates the number and availability of Egnos-based localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches in Europe. Still, the European Commission is struggling to persuade aircraft operators to equip with Egnos receivers.

Since a Falcon 900LX flew the first Egnos LPV approach in 2011, at Pau Pyrénées Airport in southwest France, use of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System has failed to grow as quickly as intended despite its offering greater GPS accuracy that allows “localizer performance with vertical guidance” precision approaches. So its promoters are attending events such as EBACE as part of their efforts to raise awareness of the potential benefits of Egnos and accelerate usage.

Also as part of these efforts, on May 7 the European GNSS Agency (GSA, Booth M070) held an event in Toulouse, supported by the European Commission, to demonstrate the benefits of a service that has been available to aviation for four years but has seen limited take-up by the industry.

While the U.S. WAAS has translated into 3,500 LPV approaches, its European counterpart is enabling such approaches at only 142 airports so far. These are precision approaches that are equivalent to ILS Cat 1 but without the need for ground equipment at the airport, so in theory can offer significant operating benefits.

The number of aircraft using Egnos is even smaller–just a few dozens, according to Carlo des Dorides, executive director of the GSA. Convincing operators to invest in an Egnos receivers, while most of the airports they uses are equipped with ILS, is also proving challenging.

A solution to this chicken-and-egg situation may come from air navigation service providers, like France’s DSNA. It is withdrawing ILS investment at 50 airports in the country, leaving it to the airports themselves to decide whether they want to pay for their ILS or uninstall it, Benoît Roturier, DSNA’s director of satellite-based navigation, told AIN. Meanwhile, DSNA is offering to pay for the design of LPV procedures. The annual maintenance cost of an ILS is estimated to €50,000-70,000 ($56,000-78,000), which is more or less equivalent to the one-off cost of establishing and publishing an LPV approach.

To enhance adoption, the GSA has recently started offering grants for operators to equip and aerodromes to publish LPV approaches. An annual €6 million ($6.7 million), during three years, has been allocated to the project. NetJets, for example, is taking advantage of the scheme.

Most, if not all, in-production business aircraft are fitted with Egnos/Waas receivers, said Belarmino Goncalves Paradela, EBAA senior manager, economics and operational activities. But very few operators use Egnos. They would need an operational approval from their national authority and “there is a lack of harmonization,” Goncalves said.

Moreover, LPV approaches could be designed in more creative ways compared to ILS, he went on. A curved approach may reduce the noise footprint; and a “double glideslope” procedure enables the following aircraft to avoid the wake vortex of the preceding one.

EBAA and the GSA last year signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the use of Egnos at regional airports in Europe.