Elaborating and implementing eco-friendly initiatives and research programmes has never been so high on the agenda of the aviation industry stakeholders as it is now. Working towards greener skies, the European Commission, together with the aviation industry, has created the CleanSky Joint Undertaking to develop technologies aiming to mitigate the impact of air transport on the environment.

At the same time, the demand for rotorcraft operations is expected to grow in Europe especially for medical and passenger transport. Increasing rotorcraft operations should take care of environmental impact as well as developing specific procedures not interfering with existing aircraft traffic at airports. In this context, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) guidance is a key solution as it enables accurate navigation capability on isolated platforms and steep approaches with reduced noise footprint.

One of the initiatives launched by CleanSky JU in this area is the GARDEN project. In an effort to obtain additional expertise and support in this framework, CleanSky JU selected an ad-hoc consortium of experts led by Egis Avia and gathering the French Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile, Pildo Consulting, and CGx AEROinSYS.

Independent rotorcraft traffic at airports

The project consists in developing new flight procedures based on the use of GNSS and enabling rotorcraft to reach busy airports fully independently of the airplane traffic operating from or to active runways. A strong coordination with CleanSky Green Rotorcraft Integrated Technology Demonstrator (GRC-ITD) will allow the design of procedures based on low-noise flight paths.

The objectives to be achieved in the framework of this project are to:

  • Identify and analyse the existing regulation for helicopter operations based on GNSS
  • Design new instrument flight rules (IFR) operations using GNSS with the related safety assessment
  • Define generic IFR procedures for European platforms and airports allowing rotorcraft to fly trajectories without interfering with aircraft traffic flows and minimising noise footprint
  • Perform in-flight demonstrations at a busy airport (Toulouse) and at an heliport in a constraining environment (Andorra)
  • Provide expert contributions to support CleanSky Green Rotorcraft ITD in the frame of the Environment-Friendly Flight Path (EFFP) project to develop and test new rotorcraft-specific flight procedures

Gathering a large diversity of skills through a major air navigation service provider, a national regulator, two specialised engineering companies and procedure designers, the consortium led by Egis Avia will help making the required breakthrough a reality.