NATS Helps Deliver First European Commercial Use of EGNOS for Approach and Landing Operations

NATS Helps Deliver First European Commercial Use of EGNOS for Approach and Landing Operations

22 December 2011

NATS, the UK’s leading air navigation services provider, has today successfully overseen the introduction of the first commercial operation based on the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS). EGNOS is a navigation technology that uses satellite positioning to provide an additional layer of accuracy and safety, allowing GPS guidance to be used by aircraft to make runway approaches in low visibility conditions. EGNOS is owned by the European Commission and operated by the European Satellite Service Provider based in Toulouse

Thanks to funding received from EUROCONTROL and the European Commission aimed at fostering the growth of EGNOS operations, the Guernsey based airline, Aurigny Air Services has upgraded aircraft with new Garmin Avionics. Aurigny is now authorised to operate passenger flights into Airports that offer EGNOS based procedures as the primary source of guidance. For Aurigny this represents a major technical advance that will enable more reliable flights in poor weather conditions to the island of Alderney, facilitate a future joined up operation with Southampton and enhance the long-term viability of the Trislander aircraft.

To support the development and implementation of EGNOS, which can be used across Europe, NATS built a consortium to successfully bid for EUROCONTROL/European Commission funding. NATS played a critical role in leading the project and interfacing with the European Aviation Safety Agency, The Director of Civil Aviation (Guernsey) and UK CAA aviation regulators, who certified the airfield and Aircraft operations. Bringing their air traffic control expertise to bear, NATS also designed the approach procedures and developed the requisite safety assurance material.

“EGNOS technology is a significant step towards equipping airfields to operate safely in inclement conditions.” said David Pole, NATS Project Manager and GNSS Systems Engineer. “It’s a cost effective solution for smaller airfields that need the accuracy and reliability of an instrument landing system. Not only does EGNOS improve the regularity of flight services, it also offers reductions in both pilot and controller workload.

Alderney airport is the first airfield in Europe to use EGNOS to support scheduled passenger services. This will enhance the reliability of Aurigny’s recreational, business and lifeline air services to the island, whilst avoiding the substantial cost of ground based equipment.

“Unlike Guernsey, Jersey and many other European airports, Alderney is too small to justify the cost of an Instrument Landing System.” said Aurigny Air Services Flight Operations Director, David Rice, “EGNOS will therefore be of a huge benefit to our Alderney operations and we are delighted to have led the way in testing it for Alderney and other small European airfields.

“NATS has afforded us every assistance, and the relationship between our organisations has been excellent.” Added Dick Emery, Aurigny Air Services Group Technical Director, “From initial contract negotiation to final certification, NATS has contributed much to the success of the project.”

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