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February 20, 2023

EGNOS groundbreaking working agreement signed for a Class G aerodrome with non-instrument runway

ESSP (European Satellite Services Provider) and the Finnish aerodrome operator of Lahti-Vesivehmaa (EFLA), which is an uncontrolled (Class G, non-ATS) aerodrome with a non-instrument runway, have signed an EGNOS Working Agreement (EWA) in January 2023 for the first time ever in this type of scenario. The EWA signature process has been fully supported by Fintraffic ANS, the major Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) in Finland, in coordination with the Finnish National Aviation Authority. This is a key step across Europe that establishes the operational and legal framework for using EGNOS Safety-of-Life Service as a navigation aid at uncontrolled aerodromes with non-instrument runways.

This EGNOS Working Agreement (EWA) represents the culmination of a long work that began in 2019, when the EGNOS service delivery scheme was first implemented for rotorcraft operators performing instrument flight procedures in non-ATS environments.

Since then, ESSP has been working together with EASA, National Competent Authorities (NCAs), Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), Aerodromes Operators and the European Union Agency for the Space Program (EUSPA), in the definition and validation of a free-of-charge EGNOS Service Provision scheme for non-ATS aerodrome operators, typically with non-instrument runways.

EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) is the European Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS). EGNOS is composed by geostationary satellites and a network of ground stations controlled by two mission control centers. EGNOS improves both accuracy and integrity of the position based on GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems). EGNOS Services are provided by ESSP, under the contract with the European Union Agency for the Space Program (EUSPA).

EGNOS offers higher levels of safety at this type of aerodromes

Generally, these aerodromes are located within uncontrolled airspace (class G), without any Air Traffic Service (ATS) being provided at the aerodrome (neither ATC nor AFIS).

That is why the definition and implementation of an EGNOS Service Provision scheme for these environments is very relevant for the Air Navigation Users due to the improvement of the safety of the operations and it is one of the strategic objectives of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), especially in aerodromes serving General Aviation (GA).

In fact, Aerodromes with a limited ground infrastructure are expected to be one of most important beneficiaries of EGNOS SoL Service, having the opportunity to implement an Instrument Approach Procedure (IAP) down to LPV minima (Localizer Performance with Vertical guidance). These types of approaches are depicted in the Performance Based Navigation (PBN) Manual (Doc 9613) as RNP APCH allowing the aircraft to flight with vertical and horizontal guidance providing additional safety without incurring any direct operational cost at airport level.

Which makes this a pioneering agreement and an open gate for future collaborations?

The signing of this EWA, the first of its kind, represents a breakthrough in the use of EGNOS as a cost-effective and safe navigation solution in critical environments where Instrument Approach Procedures (IAPs) were not allowed in the past.

It is a pioneering implementation in Europe, made possible by the collaborative and innovative approach of all organizations involved in the process, laying the groundwork for similar implementations in such environments across Europe. One of the key factors throughout the process was that the Finnish national regulatory framework was very mature and ready to cover all existing elements for this type of operation.

This agreement is framed into the EU Space Program plans to get the highest safety rates and accuracy systems in aviation through Satellite Based Navigation Protocol.

The signing of the EWA agreement concludes an important step in the international cooperation to employ EGNOS' precision signals and services in Finland for a cost-effective navigation solution to the benefit of customers using air navigation.