Airport Leads with New Aviation Navigation System

GPS instrument approaches to be introduced at Exeter...

Exeter Airport is at the forefront of an exciting and innovative period for aviation navigation as pilots will soon be able to fly new Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) instrument approaches. 

The airport’s LPV approaches will use Global Positioning System satellites (GPS) and suitable flight deck equipment. They will soon be introduced so that Exeter will have an alternative to the ground-based Instrument Landing System (ILS).

David Burrows, Air Traffic Services Manager at Exeter Airport said: “We offer an array of instrument approach options but the airport wished to implement approaches based on satellite technology that can achieve lower approach minima by providing vertical guidance similar to ILS. LPV approaches have proven to be an extremely safe and cost-effective alternative in many parts of the world but we shall be the first airport in the UK to introduce them.”

The main benefits of LPV are as an improvement to safety and to provide a suitable back up procedure in case of ILS unserviceability, without the need for extra ground-based navigation aid infrastructure.  The approach procedures down to LPV minima (250ft above the runway) make use of a GPS augmentation system called EGNOS, owned by the European Commission. The airport’s current satellite approaches are used extensively by commercial, military and training operators but suffer from higher approach minima. 

Exeter Airport, operated by Exeter and Devon Airport Limited and part of the Rigby Group, is the busiest airport in the south west peninsula.  The airport is home to Flybe, one of Europe’s largest low cost carriers, and aircraft from many other airlines such as Thomson, Thomas Cook, Air Malta and the Isles of Scilly Skybus operate holiday flights from the airport. It is also used by business jets, commercial flight training schools and by military aircraft for training.

The European GNSS Authority provided some of the funding for the upgrade of the satellite instrument approaches to the runways.

Exeter started preliminary discussions with the CAA in 2011, the procedure designs were completed in January 2013 and flight validated in December 2013. Thorough training and safety assessment work has been completed recently. Exeter will be the first UK airport to introduce LPV procedures in August 2014, with other UK airfields following later this year.