Accelerating GA uptake
The certification of EGNOS, Europe’s satellite based augmentation system, promises significant benefits for the civil aviation community, and particularly for airspace users wanting to access smaller aerodromes. But barriers to adoption remain.
The general aviation (GA) community consists of a broad range of users ranging from personal transport, to the casual weekend flier, air taxis, and light commercial activities. It is these groups that would most benefit, by being able to operate to and from aerodromes that previously would have been closed due to low cloud ceiling or reduced visibility.
EGNOS enables access to smaller airports at low cost, because it offers near ILS CAT I type performance without relying on ground infrastructure; it facilitates landing in marginal meteorological conditions; and it provides the pilot with better situational awareness.
Until recently there were three main barriers to adoption:
The first barrier was overcome in March 2011, when the system was cleared for aviation safety-of-life; in practice making it available to all civil aviation users.
The second barrier has been eased recently with the publication of the EASA AML (Approved Model List) for the Garmin GTN navigation series. This will help with certification costs since the AML simplifies the upgrade path for a large number of airframes.
Which brings us to the third barrier. A key factor dissuading private pilots and small operators from upgrading their aircraft with EGNOS compatible avionics is a lack of available instrument approach procedures – particularly in comparison to the United States, where over 3000 WAAS enabled approaches have been implemented (WAAS is the US equivalent of EGNOS).
To overcome this barrier to adoption, users of smaller aerodromes need to demand EGNOS-specific procedures. This issue has been raised as a priority by the airspace user community and included in Europe’s ATM Master Plan. Once national regulators have an accepted implementation programme, this will enable more widespread use by GA.
Efforts are continuing to address these difficulties. For our part, Helios is undertaking a Europe-wide GA user survey on behalf of the European GNSS Agency (GSA) to understand more explicitly how the GA community would benefit from EGNOS, and why there has not yet been the expected uptake in equipage. Results are due this summer and will be used to guide GSA activities in the future.