Brazil, US link on low latitude GBAS research

The development of a low-latitude ionospheric risk model for Ground-Based Augmentation System (GBAS) Augmentation Systems was the subject of an international meeting held earlier this month.

The meeting, held at the operations division of Brazil’s Department of Airspace Control (DECEA), brought together representatives from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Boston College and businesses which included Mirus, Honeywell, Boeing and several airlines.

Based on those discussions, a project will over the next two years develop the certification of a GBAS station at Rio de Janeiro Galeão International Airport for approach operations at levels similar to ILS CAT-I. Like the ILS, GBAS enables approaches in adverse weather conditions with the advantage of having lower deployment and maintenance costs.

The meeting took place in the context of a bilateral cooperation agreement between DECEA and the FAA to enhance global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).

Ionospheric interference can cause problems in the refraction of signals in the atmosphere. For this reason, the accuracy of information needed by pilots is degraded, which impacts satellite-based precision landing and approach systems. This interference is greater in low latitudes, as is the case in South America.

GBAS is a system that could solve this problem of ionospheric interference through the use of ground-based antennas that boost the GNSS signal. For example, a simple GNSS approach procedure provides safe information up to a height of approximately 400 feet. By means of the GBAS antennas, an error correction can be made, and this value drops to approximately 200 feet, which decreases the decision height, a critical factor for approach operations.

“The Global Air Navigation Plan of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) positions GBAS as a key technology for implementing performance-based navigation. DECEA, like the FAA, recognises that GBAS is a critical technology for the creation of a successful regional and global CNS/ATM system,” said Lieutenant Colonel Engineer Alessander de Andrade Santoro, GBAS coordinator at DECEA.

Currently, there are eight GBAS stations in operation in the world, located in the United States, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Australia. A GBAS station at Galeão International Airport was implemented in 2011 and until 2014 tests were carried out using the laboratory aircraft of the Special Flight Inspection Group (GEIV).

“This stage between 2011 and 2014 was the first phase of our work, in which we concluded that the GBAS could not be used in Brazil in the same way that it is operated in the northern hemisphere. Our mission now is, through this cooperation between Brazil and the United States, to deepen the analysis to identify possibilities that allow GBAS to be used in an intertropical region,” explained Santoro.

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