So here it is; the last in this series of blogs looking at possible reasons for the delay in the implementation of LPV approach procedures within Europe.
We have looked at the incentives to implement LPV approach procedures from the perspective of both the aircraft operator and the aerodrome. We now need to look at the air navigation service provider (ANSP) perspective; both the hurdles to implementation, and the incentives for it. The ANSP is a stakeholder in this because implementing the procedure can affect not only routes to/from the aerodrome in question, but also adjacent airports in the same State or a neighbouring State.
One of biggest hurdles to implementation is Europe's capacity for procedure design. Since introducing new instrument approach procedures leads to potential interactions with other instrument procedures in the airspace, the ANSP is often the first or only organisation requested to implement instrument approach procedures.
Historically, the maintenance of instrument flight procedures has been fairly well defined and limited to the number of aerodromes with published procedures and the complexity of the airspace. However, the advent of RNAV approach procedures and the ICAO General Assembly resolution 37-11 (amongst other national decisions) have resulted in an increased national workload beyond just maintenance of existing procedures. Additional designs are needed to cater for RNAV implementations - addressing more than just LPV capabilities. This means the ANSP can be the bottleneck in the process, lacking the resources to meet requests from aerodromes. (This bottle neck can also extend to the national CAA which may have similar resourcing issues in terms of responding to the influx of RNAV procedures and their particular interpretations compared to conventional procedures).
Safety from a service provision perspective is another important factor. Whilst the implementation of RNAV procedures compliant with ICAO documents already takes into account aircraft performance, the mix of RNAV capable and non-RNAV capable aircraft can present a challenge at some aerodromes. Is existing phraseology sufficient? Are procedures for controlling aircraft with loss of RNAV capability suitable in combination with non-RNAV capable aircraft? These are just some of the questions that need to be answered.
Incentives for implementation
The expansion of LPV and demand from airspace users also brings with it opportunities for those ANSPs with increased RNAV capabilities in the aircraft fleet. They have the chance to rationalise navigation through low level RNAV routes or by replacing conventional instrument procedures with RNAV procedures. In the longer term, this provides opportunities for rationalisation of procedures that need to be supported by the ANSPs and aerodrome. Well-designed RNAV procedures can also enable air traffic controllers to have better predictability in aircraft arrival spacing as well as to support fewer track miles.
In the course of our work supporting the publication of some 30 LPV approach procedures in 11 European countries we have learned that it is possible to deliver real operational and economic benefits to operators. However, with so many different needs to satisfy, and appropriately stringent safety requirements, resourcing the process can be challenging for an ANSP, as well as for aerodromes. As experience in the deployment grows, perhaps there will be an increase in the deployment rate - or will the recent declaration of EGNOS LPV-200 capability just result in an increased backlog as more aerodromes look for rationalisation benefits?
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