While the loss of unfettered access to the European Union market has been a huge loss and frustration to UK operators following Brexit, the country’s departure from the bloc will soon deal a blow for UK airspace users. Starting June 25, their ability to perform LPV approaches will be removed following the cessation on that date of the UK’s participation in the space-based EGNOS position-augmentation service, which supports approach guidance for landing aircraft.
LPV (localizer performance with vertical guidance) permits aircraft-guided approaches, operationally equivalent to a Category 1 instrument landing system, but without the need for ground-based navigation aid infrastructure.
In a letter dated March 18 to the Instrument Rated Pilots Organization, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps confirmed that the UK government could not agree to terms with the EU for continuing to use the service. “The government recognizes that after this date [June 25] airspace users will not be able to benefit from LPV approaches and instead, where possible, rely on lateral navigation procedures,“ said Shapps.
He described the outcome of the discussion with the EU as “disappointing” and confirmed that the government has begun work on exploring alternative options for providing a commensurate navigation system. This includes discussions with the UK Space Agency for a dedicated UK replacement service. “But it is, unfortunately, going to take some time and considerable investment to implement,” said Shapps.
The CAA suggested 18 airports in the UK are “likely impacted by the loss of access to EGNOS.” This includes London Oxford Airport, which has been aspiring to establish LPV approaches at the site for several years and said the loss of EGNOS access “takes us back to the drawing board.”
“Rather than pursuing a traditional ILS approach solution for the southern approach to our Runway 01—we already have ILS on Runway 19 for approaches from the north—the GNSS/RNAV alternative with an LPV-200 option was supposed to be easier and less costly,” said James Dillon-Godfray, London Oxford’s head of business development.
Making greater utilization of the southern approach, he added, “would have provided faster transition off the airways, creating less noise, fewer emissions, and enhanced capacity and flows.”
The BBGA’s Marc Bailey described the UK’s decision not to continue with EGNOS as “fundamentally flawed.” This move, he said, “shows a lack of understanding by the government about how important the facility is to the environment, safety, and the potential economic development of the UK aviation network.”
Despite Shapps's admission in his March 18 letter that there is “little prospect of the UK government renewing negotiations with the European Commission on the matter,” Bailey has called on fellow associations—including AOPA, Airlines UK, and the Airport Operators Association—to help force a rethink. “It is not too late to admit that this was a mistake,” he said.