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May 14, 2014

EGNOS for Business Aviation

The message coming from the 14th annual European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (EBACE) – the annual meeting and exhibition of the European business aviation sector – was clear: business aviation needs EGNOS. This is because the sector’s value lies in convenience, and to be convenient, business aviation demands access to airports. 

Currently, many business aircraft are not specifically catered to by existing Air Traffic Management systems (ATM) and thus unable to utilize key airports. This is particularly true as Europe’s skies become increasingly crowded, meaning smaller airports are being pressured to make themselves available. In order to be available, these small and regional airports cannot rely solely on non-precision approaches.

And this is where EGNOS comes in!

Many of these small and medium sized airports lack the high-tech equipment found in commercial airports. For example, ILS navigation aids are often limited or simply nonexistent, increasing the risk of a flight diversion. However, EGNOS-based approaches (i.e. APV approaches based on SBAS or LPV approaches) do not require ground equipment. By next year, EGNOS will allow for SBAS CAT 1 approaches, allowing for a 200 foot decision height, which is comparable to what is available via ILS Cat 1, without the need for expensive ground equipment.

This is a message that the European GNSS Agency (GSA) and ESSP, the EGNOS Services Provider, were discussing with the business aviation sector during EBACE. Both entities had numerous one-on-one meetings with such operators as Jet Aviation, NetJets and the Flying Group and manufacturers as Gulfstream, Bell Helicopters, Textron Aviation, Piaggio, DAHER-SOCATA, Airbus, AgustaWestland, Bombardier, Eclipse, Dassault, HondaJet, Embraer, Pilatus and Boeing Business Jets. The purpose of these discussions was to find out the SBAS forward fitting possibilities of their new aircraft fleet and the retrofitting opportunities for the older ones

“We’re interested in understanding whether the new business aircraft models come with SBAS capabilities by default or whether they have to be ordered by the operator as an option, or service bulletin,” said Alejandro Fransoy, Marketing and Promotion Expert, ESSP. “For the models no longer in production, we also inquired about the available retrofitting options.

What became apparent from these conversations was that most new business aircraft are SBAS equipped by default. “This is very good news as it means operators can start using the already published LPV procedures immediately,” said Gian Gherado Calini, Head of Market Development, GSA. “However, there is the ongoing challenge that individual operators are still required to obtain the operational approval from the authority where the aircraft is registered in order to be able to perform these types of approaches.”

EGNOS is There, Use It

Another positive outcome coming from EBACE is that the GSA and the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) agreed to form a partnership with the specific purpose of facilitating this enhanced use of EGNOS within the business aviation sector. 

As a result of partnerships like this and the GSA and ESSP’s ongoing work with the business aviation sector, today many small and medium sized airports are using EGNOS. Today more than 100 airports are benefitting from EGNOS and more than 400 runways plan to use EGNOS-enabled approaches by 2018.