21-Oct-2014 Source: SESAR
A series of flight trials at Barcelona airport, which were run as part of a SESAR demonstration project, have shown the feasibility of introducing new satellite-based operations that allow helicopters to operate in airports without interfering with regular airport traffic. Once introduced, the demonstrated Simultaneous Non-Interfering (SNI) operations look set to maximize airport as well as airspace capacity and dramatically enhance the ability of helicopters to take passengers to and from city and business destinations.
Simultaneous non-interfering operations (SNI) are instrument flight procedures designed to enable helicopters to operate to and from airports without conflicting with fixed-wing traffic or requiring runway slots. These procedures employ satellite guidance technology to fly low-level corridors, often perpendicular to the direction of the duty runway, down to a given point-in-space in the close vicinity of the airport followed by a final visual landing.
These latest SNI trials are part of the Navigation SESAR Concepts Involving Operators (NASCIO) SESAR demonstration project, which is co-funded by the SESAR Joint Undertaking. The project aims to demonstrate new navigation specifications in eight different scenarios including rotorcraft and fixed wing aircrafts as the main users than get benefit of new navigation concepts.
The flight trials were performed by Pildo Labs and the helicopter operator CatHelicopters with the support of ENAIRE (formerly AENA) air traffic control. Taking place in August 2014, one of the busiest periods for Barcelona airport with close to 1,000 movements a day, the trials showed how the introduction of SNI is possible without constraining restrictions on regular commercial operations.
Thanks to NASCIO, busy airports now have the opportunity to open the door to the helicopter community.