Positioning technology revolutionised the way we fly and improves access to regional and remote Australia, and improves safety of landing approaches. Through Positioning Australia and the implementation of a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS), aviation transportation will become even safer and efficient by improving vertical guidance.
Makes air travel safer
Aviation transportation will become safer and more efficient, with SBAS expected to reduce Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) accidents. SBAS can also be a backup system for Instrument Landing System (ILS) equipped airports in the case of outages, allowing for continued airport operations.
Improves access to regional and remote Australia
Improved satellite positioning technology allows for greater navigational accuracy when flying into rural and regional aerodromes such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service fleet. An increase in successfully completed rescue missions within remote locations will greatly benefit patients.
Enhances situational awareness
SBAS will provide the accuracy, integrity and availability of positioning signals needed for vertical guidance. This will improve the ability to land in a greater range of conditions such as low cloud cover and compromised visibility.
Satellite technology improving safety and efficiency in our skies
26 April 2018
Air transport in remote and regional Australia is set to be transformed by a new satellite positioning technology currently being trialled by Geoscience Australia. The aviation trial is one of 25 currently being run across the country.
Airservices Australia is leading the Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) project on behalf of the aviation industry, fitting SBAS technology into aircraft and testing it across regional Australia.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, Geoscience Australia CEO James Johnson, and Airservices Australia CEO Jason Harfield, hosted an event at Canberra International Airport on 17 April 2018 to demonstrate the technology to representatives from the aviation industry and media.
The event provided an opportunity for pilots to talk about how the technology would help Australian aviation. Aircraft present at the event included the Toll Air Ambulance, used for patient rescue, retrieval and treatment, in communities in New South Wales and the ACT, and a plane used by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The aviation component of the trial will test two technologies: first and second generation SBAS. An operational SBAS would improve safety, by guiding pilots with greater accuracy, especially those flying into regional aerodromes operating under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).
SBAS technology provides accurate guidance for landing procedures at regional aerodromes where ground infrastructure may not be as advanced as that used at larger airports.
Geoscience Australia's SBAS project manager Dr John Dawson explained that SBAS-assisted aircraft approaches are eight times safer than those that use ground-based navigation aids.
"This could mean a pilot can now attempt a landing without visuals down to 200 feet," Dr Dawson said.
"The safety and efficiency benefits this technology provides will result in fewer flights being cancelled or diverted, and can also reduce the number of landing attempts flights may need to make during poor weather."
This will be of particular benefit to services like the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which provides emergency medical transport and primary health care to rural and remote Australia, and often needs to undertake landings in varying weather conditions and at small, remote airfields and other locations where infrastructure and technology is limited.
Airservices Australia will receive up to $310 000 in funding from the Australian and New Zealand governments to trial the technology.
The broader two-year SBAS trial program includes projects in the agriculture, construction, consumer and utilities, resources, spatial and transport industries. It is being funded with $12 million from the Australian Government and a further $2 million from the New Zealand Government.
Airways New Zealand
SBAS navigation benefits for New Zealand aviation system
- Airways New Zealand
- Aeropath New Zealand
- Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust
- IQ Aviation
- Helicopters Otago Ltd (Trading name Heliotago)
The improvements in manned & unmanned aircraft navigational accuracy and integrity delivered by SBAS could provide safety and efficiency benefits to the New Zealand aviation industry. Airways New Zealand utilised the flight inspection aircraft to verify the SBAS signal strength at controlled and uncontrolled aerodromes in New Zealand. This was in the course of, and to the extent reasonably achievable within, the Airways group’s scheduled flight inspection programme. The flight inspection equipment also compared the real-time performance of augmented GNSS with conventional and performance based navigation technologies. Additional testing was undertaken with rescue helicopter operators on assessing the benefits relating to medical centre and hospital helipad access including enroute helicopter routes during poor weather conditions.
The project proposed that SBAS receiving equipment be installed for testing in aircraft operating within the Airways group’s scheduled flight inspection programme only, except where additional testing was undertaken with helicopters. Aeropath, a subsidiary of Airways New Zealand, undertook assessment of instrument approach procedures to assess improvements in minima which could allow aircraft to land at aerodromes in poor weather conditions when currently they have to divert or not operate at all. Airways worked with project collaborators to assess the potential benefits of the SBAS technology.
This enabled the signal coverage and reliability to be tested at controlled and uncontrolled aerodromes during the period March to June 2018. Testing took place within New Zealand with the Chatham Islands an option. Airways NZ coordinated collection of data from SBAS receiving equipment. This included comparison of SBAS data with data produced by Airways NZ existing flight inspection equipment, where relevant, to assess the aviation benefits of SBAS to the New Zealand aviation system. This assessment included tests as follows:
- Test the SBAS L1 and L1/L5 service coverage across the New Zealand aviation system. This verified signal reception at all controlled aerodromes, some uncontrolled aerodromes and heliports, and some low-level IFR routes.
- Test the reliability of the SBAS L1 and L1/L5 signal in-flight for instrument approach requirements to enable revised minima for instrument approach.
- Assess the actual minima reduction from the use of SBAS at selected aerodromes. From this data assess the possible benefits from lower approach minima.
SBAS Benefits for Australian Aviation
- Airservices Australia
- The University of Melbourne
Airservices Australia led a project on behalf of the Australian aviation industry to illustrate the safety and efficiency benefits of SBAS to airlines, regional/general aviation, and medivac operations. The project made use of the SBAS testbed signal to demonstrate the performance of the technology in an aviation context.
SBAS has the potential to provide a broad range of safety and efficiency benefits to Australian aviation, particularly to rural and regional Australia. This project aimed to quantify these benefits and establish that the test-bed would meet the performance requirements of aviation. Verification of the testbed as a Safety-of-Life system was outside the scope of this project.
- Demonstrated the compatibility of the testbed with current generation avionics in an operational context (L1 SBAS)
- Tested the availability, accuracy, and coverage of the testbed signal from ground and airborne stations (L1 SBAS & L1/L5 SBAS)
- Assessed the safety and efficiency benefits of SBAS to Australian aviation for a range of navigation and surveillance applications (L1 SBAS)
In particular, the project focussed on the use of SBAS approach procedures in regional areas with limited ground infrastructure to improve the safety of medical evacuations and air-work.
For further information on these projects:
SBAS Test-bed Technical Manager
FrontierSI (formerly the Australia and New Zealand CRC for Spatial Information)
Door 34, Goods Shed, Village Street, Docklands, VIC, 3008
Tel: +61 406 966 992
For all media enquiries:
Tel: 1800 882 035