China Eastern, Shangdong Demonstrate GBAS at Pudong

Post by Alyce Shingler on May 27, 2015, updated on January 24, 2020

Woodrow Bellamy III

[Avionics Today 05-26-2015] China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) has unlocked a new capability for reducing delays and increasing efficiency at the country’s most congested airports that could be ready for live operational use by the end of this year. A recent flight demonstration by Honeywell and Hughes Aerospace showed the benefits of the SmartPath Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) for next generation GPS-based precision landings.

A cockpit display shows the GLS approach into Pudong Airport used during the April flight demonstration. Photo: Hughes Aerospace.

Using a China Eastern Airlines Airbus A321 and a Shangdong Airlines Boeing 737-800, flight crews demonstrated the first ever Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) instrument approaches in China at the end of April. To enable these precision landings, SmartPath’s four ground-based antennas take an aircraft’s GPS signals and sends them to a single box located on the airport, which then correlates the signals for a high degree of integrity before beaming it back up to the aircraft for precision landing guidance.

“The CAAC, knowing that they needed to have some very flexible alternatives to the legacy [Instrument Landing System] ILS, they asked us to do some very innovative approaches with the system,” said Brian Davis, vice president of airlines, Asia Pacific at Honeywell Aerospace. “Honeywell and our partner Hughes Aerospace, we actually designed and created the flight paths into Pudong airport, not only for the standard approaches but we did four very flexible innovative approaches that have never been done by a commercial airline before. The first one was what we called a displaced threshold, the second was a variable glide-path.”

Hughes Aerospace CEO Chris Baur also noted that the demonstrations were done in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), providing a real world flight environment for the airline pilots.

“We built GLS approaches to all of the runways at Pudong,” said Baur. “We built GLS approaches to 35L and 35R and 17L and 17R. Then we did something that hasn’t been done anywhere before where we built multiple GLS approaches to one runway. For Runway 35L, we built a straight-in GLS approach and variable geometric path approaches, one with a 2.8 degree flight path angle and one with a 3.2 degree flight path angle.

Baur said the team also built two non-linear curved path, or XLS, approaches for Runway 35L, and the approach was flown to an automatic landing in IMC conditions. The trial flights provided a demonstration that exploited all of the benefits of the SmartPath technology, such as the ability to merge GLS with Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures to create a custom path to the runway based on the type of aircraft being flown.

Hughes Aerospace CEO Chris Baur and the flight crew from Shangdong Airlines that performed the precision landings demonstrations. Photo: Hughes Aerospace.

Davis says the implementation of the new procedures at Pudong can provide a model for dealing with wake turbulence issues from different aircraft as well. With heavier aircraft such as Boeing 747s, 777s or Airbus A380s dispersing an enormous amount of wake turbulence from the wings, aircraft in trail behind them are often forced to maintain very lengthy separation distances. An airport as busy as Pudong can face huge efficiency challenges when this happens.

“The variable glide-path allows the SmartPath station to send a signal to the aircraft that will allow it to fly a 2.8 or 2.9 or basically any glide-path you would like. It allows pilots to fly a much shallower glide-path than they would with an ILS,” said Davis. “SmartPath allows for up to 26 different approach combinations. That means for the same runway you can have an approach at a 2.8 degree glide-path. That’s where you bring the A380s and the Boeing 777s in. To the exact same runway, you can actually have the SmartPath station send a signal on a different channel to the smaller aircraft that will allow it to come in at a 3.1 degree glide-path, for example, so wake turbulence always disperses downward. If we bring those larger aircraft in at a shallow glide-path and the smaller aircraft in at a steeper glide-path, that means the 737 and A320 are always above the wake turbulence footprint of the larger aircraft.”

SmartPath has already been deployed in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, and CAAC sees it as one of the key tools for managing future increases in air traffic. The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) expects China to have 415 million air travel passengers annually by 2016, which would be second only to the United States in domestic passenger volume.

According to Davis, the majority of aircraft coming off of production lines today are equipped with Multi-Mode Receivers (MMR) capable of performing GBAS landings and the localizer guidance and glide slope guidance for a SmartPath approach looks the same to a flight crew as if they were flying an ILS approach.

Going forward, the new procedures must now be certified by the CAAC and Air Traffic Management Bureau.

“We should have this station up and certified by the end of 2015, or the early part of 2016 with many airlines ready to fly the new GBAS procedures shortly thereafter,” said Davis.

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China Advances In Satellite-Based Landings

Post by Alyce Shingler on May 13, 2015, updated on January 24, 2020

John Croft | Aviation Week & Space Technology           May 12, 2015

China leapfrogged its international peers in late April with what is arguably the world’s most advanced display of a precision navigation capability—satellite-guided curved approaches with multiple glideslopes that seamlessly terminated in automatic landings.

The one-day demonstration on April 29 took place at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport using a China Eastern Airlines Airbus A321 and a Shangdong Airlines Boeing 737-800 with senior officials from China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) and air traffic management bureau onboard. Anchoring the capability is a Honeywell SmartPath ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) that has been operating at the airport since January.

The approaches at Pudong demonstrated key benefits of a digital GBAS landing system (GLS), including the ability to merge the GLS with satellite-based required navigation performance (RNP) procedures for a customized 3-D path to the runway. RNP provides the aircraft with narrow horizontal and vertical paths into the vicinity of an airport, where GLS provides the precision guidance to landing. The SmartPath system, the first certified GBAS landing system to be installed in China, uplinks digitized approach paths and correction factors to GPS signals to allow an aircraft equipped with a multi-mode receiver capturing GPS signals from space and the GLS information from the ground station to fly as many as 26 approaches to multiple runways. A GLS can replace or augment traditional instrument-approach architectures that use analog horizontal and vertical guidance transmitters placed at each runway end to transmit a straight-in path to the runway, typically at a 3-deg. glideslope. Those systems are costly to maintain and require flight inspections on at least a semi-annual basis.


A GLS approach into the Pudong Airport as seen on the primary flight display of an aircraft participating in a late-April demonstration of satellite-guided curved approaches. Credit: Hughes Aerospace


Navigation procedure developer Hughes Aerospace drafted eight approaches for Pudong in partnership with Honeywell. Included are GLS procedures for Runway 35L that offer a traditional straight-in approach with 3-deg. glidepath, a curved approach that mates with an RNP arrival and intersects a straight-in GLS final, a straight-in approach with 2.8-deg. glidepath and a straight-in approach with a 3.2-deg. glidepath and a 3,517-ft. displaced threshold. RNP approaches with curved paths can be used to join with a GLS approach closer to the airport, saving track miles and fuel compared to legacy approaches, or to avoid noise-sensitive areas.

Chris Baur, president and chief executive of Hughes Aerospace, says choices for glidepath angle potentially could allow airports to increase runway throughput by mitigating wake turbulence concerns. For example, the arrival rate could be increased by having a heavy aircraft fly an approach with a lower glidepath while a lighter aircraft uses the steeper glidepath approach with displaced threshold.

SmartPath, to date the only FAA-certified GLS on the market, is installed at several airports worldwide, including Newark (New Jersey), Houston, Frankfurt and Sydney, where a growing number of aircraft equipped with multi-mode receivers (MMR) can access the capability. The systems are currently approved for Category 1 instrument approach minimums (aircraft must be in visual conditions at 200 ft. above the runway to continue the approach), but the FAA and others are working toward Cat. 2 (100-ft. minimums) and Cat. 3 capability (50-ft. minimums or less, including autoland) in the next several years. The FAA says Cat. 3 operations could be available in the U.S. in 2018.

A handful of airlines globally are beginning to use GLS as an alternative to a straight-in legacy instrument landing system (ILS) with a 3-deg. glideslope, particularly as newer aircraft are available from the factory with the option. Boeing says it has more than 1,000 GPS-equipped in-service aircraft, with the number growing by 25 per month. The airframer says one-third of all new 737s are being delivered with the MMRs, which are standard equipment on the 747-8 and 787.

Delta Air Lines conducted its inaugural GBAS landing with a Boeing 737 at Newark Liberty International Airport on Feb. 18, joining United Airlines and British Airways, which were already flying the approaches there. The FAA says United is averaging 65-70 GBAS landing system (GLS) approaches at Newark and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport each month with a portion of its 737 and 787 fleets. United has 95 737s and 14 787s with MMR avionics, and is selecting the option for all new 737s.

Delta is using the approaches in Houston as well as in Newark, and has a fleet of 42 GLS-equipped 737s. The carrier is investigating GLS for its Airbus fleet. In total, the airline plans to have 177 aircraft equipped for the approaches by 2019, according to the FAA. A growing number of international airlines also are using the capability at Newark and Houston. Emirates conducted its first GLS landing in Houston in December with an Airbus A380, one of 57 GLS-equipped A380s at the time. The carrier also uses the approaches at Frankfurt, Sydney and Zurich. Lufthansa made its first GLS landing in Houston in December with one of 12 equipped A380s that also use the approaches at Sydney and Frankfurt. Cathay Pacific made its first GLS landing in Houston, with a 747-8, at the end of January. The FAA says Virgin Atlantic is also planning to seek operational specification approval for the approaches into Newark. Other carriers purchasing GLS-equipped aircraft include Air Berlin, Qantas, Swiss, TUIfly and various Russian airlines.

Next steps for Pudong include CAAC certification of the GLS at the airport, an inaugural process that may allow for quicker installations at other airports in the country.

China Demonstrates GPS-Based Instrument Landing System

Post by Alyce Shingler on May 7, 2015, updated on January 24, 2020

John Croft | Aviation Daily

A China Eastern AirlinesAirbus A321 and a Shandong Airlines Boeing 737-800 flew a series of instrument approaches to the Shanghai Pudong International airport on April 29 using a Honeywell-built ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) and instrument-approach procedures developed by Hughes Aerospace, marking the first public demonstrations of the technology in China.

The Honeywell SmartPath GBAS landing system (GLS)—which augments GPS signals to boost accuracy to required levels—is the first certified system to be installed in China. One GLS, which can output guidance for up to 26 approaches to any runway, replaces traditional instrument-approach architectures that require horizontal and vertical guidance systems to be placed at each runway end. The single system covers approaches for all four runways at Pudong and saves on a variety of regular inspection and maintenance costs.

SmartPath, to date the only FAA-certified system on the market, is installed at several airports around the world, including Newark, Houston, Sydney and Frankfurt. The GLS is currently approved for Category 1 (Cat 1) instrument approach minimums (aircraft must be in visual conditions at 200 ft. above the runway to continue the approach), but the FAA and others are working toward Cat 2 (100-ft. minimums) and Cat 3 capability (50-ft. minimums or less, including autoland) in the next several years. The FAA says Cat 3 operations could be available in the U.S. in 2018.

Other “firsts” on April 29 include the demonstration of curved approaches that connect to the GLS, and approaches with lower- or higher-than-standard glideslopes, including a 2.8-deg. flight path angle (FPA), a 3.2-deg. FPA and the standard 3.0-deg FPA. The 3.2-deg. FPA approach also included a displaced threshold of 1,072 ft., an offset that could help avoid the potential for wake turbulence during parallel runway operations, Hughes Aerospace CEO Chris Baur said.

Hughes, which is partnered with Honeywell on the project, is one of three FAA-certified third-party providers of NextGen procedures. Baur said the company built eight approaches into Pudong. The two commercial aircraft each flew 4-5 non-revenue approaches in instrument weather that day, he said.

Next steps for Pudong include certification at the airport by the China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) and Air Traffic Management Bureau, a process that may allow for quicker installations at other airports in the country.