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GNSS Solutions for Increased GA and Rotorcraft Airport Accessibility Demonstration

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GRADE (GNSS Solutions for Increased GA and Rotorcraft Airport Accessibility Demonstration)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

"The overall objective of the GRADE project is to demonstrate the capability of General Aviation aircraft and rotorcraft to benefit from the concepts developed in the SESAR programme, thus facilitating their integration into the airspace and at the airports where the SESAR concepts are implemented, and guaranteeing the same access opportunity to all the airspace users.

Specifically, GRADE aims at demonstrating the applicability to General Aviation aircraft and rotorcraft, equipped with non-certified or specific on-board avionics, of SESAR Solutions #51, #55, #103, and #113, which are based on the GNSS technology. Indeed, the exploitation of the GNSS in the approach phase represents an alternative to ILS, able to improve the flight safety and the airport accessibility. It also increases flexibility in procedure design, allowing shorter approach paths, fuel savings and avoidance of environmentally sensitive areas. Concerning rotorcraft, they encounter significant weather and terrain-related challenges when performing specific flight operations, which confine rotorcraft to fly only in VFR. The GNSS technology allows designing specific IFR routes, enabling the rotorcraft operators to access into controlled airspace and fully integrating them into the future ATM system by implementing the Point in Space (PinS) procedures concept. These procedures have the potential to enable an increasing passenger throughput, removing IFR rotorcraft from active runways and allowing an easier way to manage both traffic flows of fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft simultaneously and in a non-interfering way.

The project also deals with technological aspects, testing some prototypes already available within the consortium and suitably customized to fit the above listed SESAR Solutions needs.

The demonstration objectives are achieved through in flight live trials performed at two different sites (in Italy and Germany) and using three different aircraft. Preparatory Real-Time Simulations with hardware and humans in the loop complement the flight trials. All the tests involve licensed air traffic controllers and professional test pilots to operate the scenarios."
The technical activities of the project were organized in three phases: preparation, execution, and analysis of the demonstrations. These phases were executed in sequence twice, the first time to complete the preparatory real time simulation exercises, and the second one to carry out the flight trials. Dissemination and communication activities were performed in parallel to the technical activities for the whole duration of the project.

In the preparation phase, the activities focused on the definition of the demonstration plan, the customization of the technological prototypes and the preparation of the facilities needed for the demonstrations. The Demonstration Plan defines five exercises and details the scope of the demonstration through the definition of the operational scenarios, the identification of the involved actors with their role and responsibility, the specification of the exercises objectives and related success criteria. All the planned demonstration exercises were carried out in the execution phase, completing about 28 hours of flight time and 21 hours of real time simulations with hardware and human in the loop. All the data and information collected during the demonstrations were analysed in the analysis phase, in order to assess the achievement of the GRADE objectives. The outcomes of real time simulations and flight trials were consistent. The main result of the exercises is that the solutions under demonstration are feasible for General Aviation aircraft and rotorcraft. The feedback gathered during the exercises showed that designed procedures are acceptable by both ATCOs and pilots, who can perform their tasks efficiently, accurately and timely. Moreover, these procedures and operating methods have a positive impact on the examined SESAR KPAs.

Concerning communication and dissemination activities, the project results were presented at the main ATM related events in Europe (SESAR Innovation Days 2018, World ATM Congress 2019, Tandem Aerodays 2019, SESAR Innovation Days 2019) and in some other scientific conferences. In addition, scientific papers and general audience articles were produced and several press releases published.
General Aviation accounts for about 5% of the total civil aviation revenues in Europe, and involve about 8% of the civil aviation job posts (AOPA Germany). General Aviation shows a wide range of uses from private and business travels to commercial on demand transport, leisure, sport, training, law enforcement, fire-fighting, medical services, agriculture, parcel service, aerial work and others. All these sectors and the society can benefit from the improvements coming from the project activities.

The GRADE project performed demonstrations of GNSS technologies and SNI operations in General Aviation and rotorcraft activities. The flight trials produced data and sound results that can be used to support regulation, standardization and certification needs. Outcomes of the project comprehend performance measures, safety assessments and human performance evaluations. System performance are expressed in terms of navigation precision of satellite based position system. Safety is assessed in terms of reliability of the proposed solutions, as well as in terms of capacity to manage non-nominal and failure conditions. Human performance measures apply to workload and situational awareness of both pilot and air traffic controllers. In further details, procedures and technologies demonstrated within this project allow:
• providing more accurate positioning of the aircraft during the approach and geometrical vertical guidance during the final approach segment;
• increasing the pilots’ situational awareness both in lateral and vertical plane, the overall navigational and terrain awareness, thus reducing the risk of Controlled Flight Into Terrain events;
• reducing the approach minima with respect to conventional NPA procedures, consequently enabling successful approaches in conditions that may otherwise cause delay, diversion or cancellation;
• increasing flexibility in planning arrival paths in terminal airspace.
All these achievement can be obtained without requiring significant changes to the current on-ground infrastructure.

The performance improvements demonstrated within the project will contribute to:
• Improve safety and airport accessibility of General Aviation and rotorcraft to regional and small non-instrumented airports, large airports not equipped with the ILS system, and major ILS equipped airports (for GA and rotorcraft not equipped with ILS airborne devices).
• Ease the integration of General Aviation and rotorcraft with commercial aviation into airports airspace, by reducing the runway occupancy times and spacing between arrival aircraft without negatively affecting safety and human performance, and displacing IFR rotorcraft from active runways, while allowing an easier way to manage both traffic flows fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft.
Flight Trials at Braunschweig airport
TUBS Navigation Prototype
DLR Helicopter Simulator (HUBSIM)
NAIS Portable PFD
DLR experimental rotorcraft
Flight Trials at Capua airport
CIRA General Aviation Simulator (CAM)
Open Day at CIRA
CIRA Controller Working Position HMI