The European aviation industry is joining forces in the European GBAS Alliance, where stakeholders from different sectors of the aviation industry work together for a synchronized deployment of GNSS-based landing systems, known as GBAS, across Europe.

The European GBAS Alliance includes airports, airlines, air navigation service providers, and air and ground manufacturing industry working for a coordinated and synchronized deployment of Ground Based Augmentation Systems (GBAS) across Europe. The ambition is for deployment preparations to start already this year, with increasing force from 2020. The focus is particularly on precision approaches in low-visibility conditions.

The first collaborative meeting took place in Toulouse (France) the first week of June with more than 20 organizations represented.

GBAS is recognized as a supplement and, in the future, the replacement of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS). A synchronized GBAS implementation for low visibility operations (GBAS GAST D for categories II and III) will lead to environmental, economical, capability and safety benefits for airports, airlines and air navigation service providers. It allows for steeper approaches, which saves fuel and reduces noise and CO2 emissions. Further, GBAS improves airport capacity by letting approaching aircraft use different glide slopes to avoid wake turbulence. Runway capacity will increase between 2 and 6% in peak traffic periods according to research by EU’s SESAR project for increased runway and airport throughput (PJ02) and supported by Eurocontrol simulations.

Indra has been a driver for GBAS development for years, and is one of the initiators behind the European GBAS Alliance. Indra contributes with one of the technological pillars; the NORMARC GBAS system that is capable of guiding aircraft even in low visibility conditions (CAT II and III). The technology is ready, and the focus now is on getting the infrastructure and regulatory framework in place.

“The great response to this initiative is very encouraging”, says, Hugo Moen, GBAS General Sales Manager at Indra. “In spite of the indisputable benefits to everyone, we need a collective effort to get out of a “chicken or egg” situation. Both airlines and airports need to make some investments, but airlines are reluctant to invest in GBAS receivers for aircraft as few airports have the required infrastructure. Likewise, airports or ANSPs are not investing since few aircraft can make use of the system.”

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”, comments GBAS Product Manager Linda Lavik from Indra.