A version of this article appears in the June 30 edition of Aviation Week & Space Technology.
Europe’s general and business aviation communities say broader adoption of satellite-based approaches could be a panacea for runway capacity shortfalls in Europe, and that more needs to be done to enable space-based precision landings here.
Fabio Gamba, CEO of the Brussels-based European Business Aviation Association, says his members make use of approximately 500 airports in Europe, versus around 250 used for commercial operations.
“Despite economic times, the supply of business aircraft has not contracted, it has accelerated, and for the foreseeable future will be growing as the number of acquired aircraft exceeds the number of retired aircraft,” Gamba told the 2014 European Space Expo here June 12. “European infrastructure has to accommodate this one way or another.”
Gamba said one way to address the looming shortfall in runways is through European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (Egnos)-enabled LPV procedures (see page 56), which have already helped optimize existing airport capacity in the U.S. with 3,404 LPV (localizer performance with vertical guidance procedures) published as part of the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) used at 1,676 airports stateside.
“The larger use of LPVs would benefit the whole industry by freeing up current capacity at given hubs,” he said, citing Paris Orly Airport in central France as an example. While not a hub for business aviation in Europe, Gamba said, Orly has published LPV procedures for curved approaches with a bank of 25 deg. that are ideally suited to business aircraft.
“It would not impact current traffic; it was tailor-made for business aviation. But having an LPV published does not mean it is done,” he said, noting a “lukewarm attitude” among certain stakeholders at larger airports. “If we could make this procedure palatable to the major airports, especially the mixed-mode airports—it would help everyone.”
Paul Sherry, chairman of PPL/IR Europe, a U.K.-based not-for-profit organization representing the general aviation community, says his group is eager to see LPV procedures in wider use, particularly at smaller, non-instrument airfields.
Sherry said equipment cost is one of the largest hurdles for general aviation pilots, notably the expense of purchasing new Garmin LPV-certified kit or obtaining regulatory authorization to use older panel-mounted receivers for LPV approaches, which he says can run €10,000 ($13,700) per aircraft.
To lower these costs, he said, PPL/IR Europe is working with the European GNSS Agency (the former Global Navigation Satellite System Agency now known as GSA), theand a U.K.-based Part 21 design organization, to obtain retroactive authorization of all Egnos-enabled boxes, an initiative that could “bring the cost of approval down from €10,000 to €300 per airplane.”
Sherry said pilot training is also key, and the European Aviation Safety Agency already is considering practical training as part of pilot recertification or revalidation every year. The regulatory authority is also considering a distance learning course for pilots that could be taken in a single day online.
In the meantime, Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority is in the process of approving LPV procedures for West Wickham Airport near London, a feat he calls “amazing,” given its location.
“We’re hopeful we’re going to establish the first LPV approach to a non-instrument runway anywhere in Europe,” Sherry said, noting that West Wickham is located in a congested area nearand the London Terminal Maneuvering Area, one of the busiest airspaces in Europe.
“We are going to try to put an LPV approach in at that airport this year.”