Thanks to funding provided by the European GNSS Agency (GSA), NextJet’s fleet of SAAB 340 regional aircraft will soon be able to utilise EGNOS-based LPV landing procedures.
On 20 April 2017, a SAAB 340 aircraft equipped with a new EGNOS-based navigation system successfully completed a series of EGNOS-enabled localiser performance with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches and related tests. The flight, which took off from and landed at Denmark’s Billund Airport (BLL), was conducted by a NextJet crew, who were joined by two engineers from Scandinavian Avionics. NextJet is one of Sweden’s largest regional airlines. Scandinavian Avionics are the designers behind the installation of the EGNOS-capable Universal Avionics UNS-1Lw FMS with LPV monitor in the SAAB 340 aircraft.
The 3 hour and 23 minute flight included a series of LPV approaches at Denmark’s Aarhus Airport (AAR), along with testing PRNAV (precision area navigation) with SID (standard instrument departure route) and STARs (standard arrival route) at Norway’s Kristiansand Airport (KRS).
Watch this: A playback of the Nextjet test flight
The test flight was performed without incident. The NextJet crew reported that they were very happy with how the system performed, noting that they can already see how NextJet’s operations will benefit from LPV approaches. A second plane will undergo an avionics upgrade in May, and the airline plans to have its entire fleet of 10 SAAB 340 aircraft upgraded by the end of 2018.
The benefits of EGNOS
EGNOS, which was designed for aviation, creates more access to small and regional airports such as BLL, AAR and KRS – increasing safety and facilitating business across Europe. For airports like these, EGNOS serves as a suitable alternative to traditional Instrument Landing Systems (ILS). Unlike ILS, which depend on expensive ground-based equipment, EGNOS utilises geostationary satellites and a network of ground stations to receive, analyse and augment GPS signals. With EGNOS, these satellite signals become suitable for such safety-critical applications as aircraft landings.
Read more: AERO 2017 show EGNOS benefits
The currently available EGNOS LPV 200 service level provides vertical guidance that enables reaching a decision height as low as 200 feet. This is a capability similar to what is provided by ILS, but without the same financial burden of installing, maintaining and calibrating the ground equipment.
“We are proud to receive GSA funding and excited to introduce the EGNOS LPV into our operation. NextJet operation is mainly concentrated at small airports where ILS usually isn’t available on multiple runways. The SAAB 340 fleet will be much more flexible and the number of weather-related delays and cancellations will decrease dramatically at those destinations”, NextJet Engineering Manager Jonas Malmqvist confirmed.
Fostering EGNOS adoption
Of course having these procedures isn’t very useful if nobody can use them. Hence the GSA’s commitment to working with aircraft operators and avionics manufacturers like NextJet and Scandinavian Avionics to ensure the availability of EGNOS-based solutions for the most common aircraft models.
NextJet received GSA funding in order to gain the required Supplemental Type Certification (STC) to upgrade the avionics on its fleet of 10 SAAB 340 aircraft with EGNOS capability. STC is a national aviation authority-approved major modification or repair to an existing type certified aircraft, engine or propeller. Since it is adding to an existing type certificate, it is considered to be supplemental. Thus, before an older aircraft like the SAAB 340 can have its avionics upgraded to EGNOS capability, that particular upgrade must first receive STC.
NextJet was funded under the GSA’s Aviation Call 2015. The GSA Aviation Calls aim to foster EGNOS adoption in the European civil aviation sector. Grants are given to support projects that enable users to equip and use their aircraft fleet with GPS/SBAS-enabled avionics and to allow Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) and aerodromes/heliports to implement EGNOS-based operations in Europe.
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