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Satellite-based flight methods utilising EGNOS for use in all Finnish airports – Fintraffic Air Navigation Services rewarded with service provider recognition

Published on 26.1.2022

Last edited on 5.8.2022

Did you know that Finland has been one of the first countries in Europe to deploy satellite-based flight methods? Last year, a situation was reached in which all Finnish airports have deployed instrument flight procedures to support air transport in a new way using the EGNOS satellite navigation system. What benefits do the EGNOS flight methods bring to the aviation industry? Why was Fintraffic’s air navigation services rewarded with recognition in connection with the introduction of the methods?

The first GPS-based approach procedures were introduced more than 15 years ago, originally as non-precision approach methods. Such GPS procedures have been in use in all Finnish airports since 2014.

“GPS is a familiar system that has been in use for a long time. In practice, however, the navigational data it produces can only be used laterally. The use of the EGNOS system also enables the utilisation of altitude data from the satellite navigation system, says Samu Tuparinne, Head of Flight Methods at Fintraffic Air Navigation Services.

Recognition for deploying a significant number of EGNOS services

The European Satellite Service Provider (ESSP), which is the service provider for EGNOS, awards recognitions from time to time for the advanced use and development of EGNOS procedures. Fintraffic Air Navigation Services were also recognised with such a recognition.

“The choice was based on Fintraffic’s significant number of deployed new EGNOS-based approach procedures over the last couple of years. We can talk about a second wave of developments following the introduction of GPS-based approach procedures, in which we have been able to deploy these EGNOS procedures in all Finnish airports within a short time,” Tuparinne praises.

The deployment of the EGNOS procedures was completed in April 2021. The deployment of the procedures went well despite the resource challenges posed by the pandemic, as Fintraffic was able to create cost-effective solutions. Cost-effectiveness stems from advanced tools, a strong level of expertise and extensive experience. In practice, the new procedures could be incorporated into existing RNP approach procedures, so that no changes were made to the airspace concept at this stage.

As one sub-area, Fintraffic developed the necessary systems and an operating model, in which the procedure’s correct coding of geometry as well as adequate reception and reliability of satellite signals are ensured by flying. The simultaneous implementation of several procedures allowed savings in the costs of the validation database and through the more efficient execution of validation flights through planning.

In the future, there will be a transfer to the next EGNOS service level

The need to deploy satellite-based flight procedures comes not only from users, but also from the EU. In Finland, deployment has been carried out in a front-loaded manner as, for example, the instrument approach procedures utilising EGNOS have already been deployed in all the country’s airports. Development continues, but especially a more broader nationwide transition to the next EGNOS service level, which meets stricter requirements, still requires further development of EGNOS.

“The service level in line with the stricter requirements also enables approaching in poorer visibility conditions than currently permitted, functionally responding to the Category I ILS instrument approach system. There is a demand for this, and such procedures are already in place elsewhere in Europe. In Finland, however, we are still in the process of ensuring that the system will also work without interferences here in the north,” Tuparinne explains.

In part, the reliability of operations is also supported by the EGNOS Ranging Integrity Monitoring Station (RIMS) to be deployed in Kuusamo in 2023, of which there has previously only been one in Finland. In addition to other system improvements, the new RIMS supports the operational reliability of the EGNOS system in Finland.

Recent legislative developments will enable the use of new services, such as instrument approach procedures, not only at airports, but also in smaller, so-called un-towered aerodromes. Fintraffic Air Navigation Services will also prepare to meet this service demand in the future.

“Until ten years ago, aircraft did not have a comprehensive capability to utilise the EGNOS procedures, but technology is constantly evolving. With such flight procedures, we have noticed a clear increase in user needs, to which we want to respond as well as possible with our services,” Tuparinne says.