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August 02, 2018

EU initiative achieves greater airport safety with 3D GNSS


The increase of air traffic in the skies across Europe is the challenge of ensuring that its airports present, at all times, the highest security with respect to its air accessibility. The BLUEGNSS project has applied Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) to eleven airports in the Southeastern Mediterranean region in order to increase safety and airport accessibility, according to the European Commission’s Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS).

BLUEGNSS has focused on the implementation of the European Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) in Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Malta. The four countries form the Functional Air Block (FAB) BLUE MED, the airspace in which air traffic is managed, regardless of national borders. BLUE MED is one of the nine FABs established in Europe to reduce the fragmentation of the European air traffic grid.

GALILEO, Europe's GNSS, has achieved its highest performance through the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System: EGNOS, which is a satellite-based augmentation system that improves GNSS positioning. Its three satellites and its network of more than thirty-nine reference stations (RIMS) in twenty-four countries allow it to provide greater location accuracy than GALILEO alone.

EGNOS’s safety advantages and lower investment costs greatly benefit small and regional airports, which generally cannot afford the high installation and maintenance costs of ground-based air navigation support systems. For this reason, BLUEGNSS has promoted its use in this geographically complex Mediterranean region.

"Today, the Southeastern Mediterranean region lacks full EGNOS coverage" said GNSS expert Patrizio Vanni of ENAV SpA, the Italian ANSP (Air Navigation Service Provider), in a new posted on the European GNSS Agency's website. "To complicate things further, each airport involved in the project has a very different operating environment." He added.

The three-dimensional GNSS approaches are being designed for FAB BLUE MED airports: four in Greece and Italy, two in Cyprus and one in Malta. The main objective is to harmonize the implementation of essential air navigation methods among the four countries. This will allow aircraft to fly along more direct flight routes with greater precision and reach the position of the aircraft with precision and integrity.

BLUEGNSS (Promoting EGNSS Operational Adoption in BLUEMED FAB), currently in the final phase, is the first project of this type coordinated on a FAB scale. This can act as a catalyst to spread the knowledge related to effective Air Navigation tools in the region and beyond, to all Europe.