“It's the connection to the mainland, and in many areas this is treated very much as a bus service,” Ashton says. In addition to commuter services, Aurigny provides medical flights, business and freight services to the island's 2,400 inhabitants. “So there's a good business case for the operator to become involved in Egnos.”
NATS implemented the new LVP procedures in November 2011, with one Aurigny Trislander aircraft equipped to “pilot” the operation, which was certified by the European aviation safety authority in December 2011.
“The project was to implement an operation—not a trial, not a demo. This had to be done by the book, with an equipped operator and necessary operational approvals to fly Egnos,” Ashton says.
Prior to the satellite-based system, the minimum altitude at which Aurigny's aircraft could approach a runway was 390 ft. with 1,400 meters visibility.
“It is actually quite a significant problem because if they come down in clouds, they have to align the aircraft with the runway to make a successful landing, and its quite a high-workload situation,” Ashton says. “It was an unstable approach, and more importantly it was inaccurate.”
With Egnos, pilots were able to improve their approach to a height of as little as 300 ft. at 900 meters visibility.
“It's both lateral and vertical guidance, so the aircraft is stable on approach,” Ashton says, adding that the current 300-ft. height could be reduced to 250 ft. “Success at Alderney demonstrated we could implement and certify approach procedures, upgrade aircraft and get it certified and get an operator's operational approval to use it.”
In addition to Aurigny, U.K. operators with committed plans to implement the Egnos upgrade include Loganair, Hebridean Air Services, Gama Aviation and Skybus. Ashton says Specsavers Aviation is the first corporate operator to sign on, with plans to upgrade two Beech 350 King Air turboprops for service between the U.K., Ireland, Spain, Scandinavia and the Netherlands.
Two professional flight training organizations, Bournemouth and Aviation South West, are interested in using the system to teach pilots LPV from the outset. Ashton says London Executive Aviation has expressed interest in the system as well.