Lufthansa, Deutsche Flugsicherung and Fraport are jointly beginning tests of new satellite-based approach procedures at Frankfurt Airport.
The aim of these tests is to prove the advantages of curved and steeper approach procedures in the vicinity of airports. The trial period begins on May 26 and will last until August 31. This will take place in the framework of the European research project Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR).
Under real conditions, the so-called “RNP to xLS” approaches will be tested in Frankfurt. These satellite-based curved approaches guide the aircraft very accurately on both precision approach systems that are available at Frankfurt Airport: The Instrument Landing System (ILS), which has been proven for decades, and the new system of the future Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS). In future the new procedure should help to enable flying in curves in the vicinity of the airport to become more accurate and to further increase aircraft flight track adherence. The lateral course of the new approach procedures is strongly orientated to the low-noise segmented approach procedures known for years. The new feature is that for the first time the north-west runway will be connected to this procedure.
Additionally, the suitability of the procedure in an environment of high traffic density will be investigated at Frankfurt Airport. During test flights the criteria “flight track adherence” and “noise emission” will be especially intensively observed and subsequently evaluated. Besides Bremen and Zurich, Frankfurt is the only European airport to this new procedure during testing. All three airports have the new GBAS satellite-based precision landing system.
Lufthansa will use aircraft models A380, B747-8 as well as three upgraded GBAS capable A319 for the tests. In addition, in a few days a test aircraft from the company Honeywell will fly the new routes. The corresponding flight procedures for the test were developed by the Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH (German Air Traffic Control) and have already been submitted to the Aircraft Noise Commission. Throughout the entire duration of the tests Fraport will supervise the approach procedures with fixed and mobile flight noise monitoring stations and will subsequently evaluate the data.
With the start of the tests of the new procedures by Fraport, DFS and Lufthansa, the international pioneering role of Frankfurt Airport in research and further development of active noise protection will once again be underlined. The partners involved hope to make an important contribution to greater efficiency and to quieter landing and take-off procedures with this investigation.
The EU Single European Sky is an ambitious initiative launched by the European Commission with the objective to reform the architecture of the European Air Traffic Management sustainably. It aims at harmonizing the European transport policy and at establishing the basis for the future success of Europe in the global competition in aviation.
The main focus areas of the program are air traffic safety, an increase in efficiency, improved airport capacities, and the modernization of the European air transport infrastructure in general. Within the scope of SESAR (Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research) as a subproject of the Single European Sky, the innovative technologies, systems and procedures will be developed and deployed by 2024.
GBAS provides a precise approach with a digital guide and operates according to the so-called “Differential Global Positioning System” procedure (DGPS). On the basis of its own highly accurate position, a GBAS ground station at the airport calculates correction data for every satellite of the American Global Positioning System (GPS). Via a digital data link this correction data will be sent together with further information on the current error and geometry of final approaches to all equipped aircraft in the vicinity of the airport. The GBAS receiver on board the aircraft can thus correct the received GPS signals itself, consequently calculate the exact flight position and once the pilot has selected the desired approach, compare it with the chosen approach path. The calculated deviation between the position of the aircraft and the chosen approach path will be shown to the pilot in the usual form on his cockpit displays or the flight control system will provide the aircraft with an automatic approach.
In comparison with the approach procedures currently in use in Frankfurt, essential advantages derive from this robust new technology: Hence a single GBAS ground station can support many different final approaches on several runways. These approaches can also be of different steepness for example.
When aircraft are consistently equipped with corresponding receivers on board in future, then GBAS will completely replace the instrument landing system (ILS).