European group eyes funding for airport capacity boost using GBAS landing system

A cross-industry alliance working to synchronise the deployment of GBAS for CAT II/III approaches in Europe, both in the air and on the ground, will step up a gear this autumn with a bid to tap European funds in order to kickstart the initiative.

A GLS or GBAS Landing System is a Global Navigation Satellite System-dependent alternative to Instrument Landing System (ILS) which uses a single GBAS airport ground station to transmit corrected GNSS data to suitably-equipped aircraft to enable them to fly a precision approach with much greater flexibility.

The European GBAS Alliance – spearheaded by Indra and Airbus – launched at the World ATM Congress this year and already numbers more than 20 airports, airlines and ANSP among its members.

“Deployment will benefit airports, airlines and ANSPs, but requires investments both on the ground and on the aircraft. Working together in a synchronised approach therefore makes a lot of sense,” said Hugo Moen, GBAS business development manager at Indra which has developed the NORMARC GBAS system that supports landings even in low visibility conditions. “The response to the initiative has been quite overwhelming. It is clear that the industry recognises GBAS’ potential safety, capacity and environmental benefits.”

The objective is to develop a critical mass of GBAS ground stations at airports as well as GBAS receivers on aircraft with a supporting regulatory framework in place in order to start preparations for deployment this year and to increase from 2020.

“We are also working towards the European Commission and the SESAR Deployment Manager to get GBAS included in the revised PCP, and from there get it implemented as a SESAR DM programme,” he said, adding that Indra Navia is also actively looking to the US for a GBAS GAST D approval.

GBAS differs from ILS in being based on GNSS instead of conventional radio signals. Whilst ILS signals can be affected by topography and other physical objects, GBAS has no critical or sensitive areas. This allows for higher capacity during precision approaches, reducing the risk of diversion, cancellation and go-around.

“GBAS enables steeper and shorter approaches. Precision landings can be performed at airports where this has not been possible due to topography or other reasons. In Norway, we have used GNSS-based landing systems at 17 airports for many years, with great results. It is nice to see the industry working together so more countries can benefit from this new technology,” said Indra’s GBAS product manager Linda Lavik.