Successful trials have recently been conducted at Lausanne, Switzerland, using the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) to guide a helicopter as it approached and touched down at an emergency medical service landing pad in the city.
The Lausanne trials were performed by Eurocopter, using their EC155 experimental all-weather helicopter (Hlicoptre Tous Temps HTT). The trial programme was coordinated by skyguide, the Swiss air navigation service provider and consisted of a number of validating approaches performed by the HTT to a Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) pad located on the roof of Lausanne University Hospital.
The test team was hosted in Lausannes La Blcherette aerodrome by the Swiss medical air rescue agency (Schweizerische Rettungsflugwacht - Garde Arienne Suisse de Sauvetage REGA) who also participated in the flight tests.
The trial approaches were designed by skyguide for 6 and 9 approach angles. Initial feedback from the test pilots indicates that, despite of the steepness of the approaches the standard approach angle is 3 they are easy to fly thanks to the three-dimensional guidance provided by EGNOS. Vertical guidance for the pilot is a major advantage EGNOS offers over standard GPS.
The increased approach angles also reduce noise nuisance on the ground as the helicopter can remain at high altitude until it is closer to its destination before commencing its final descent. In addition, a steeper descent angle reduces the noise generated by the rotor blades as the craft nears the ground.
The implementation of instrument approaches for HEMS operations will allow the emergency services to continue their operations in weather conditions that would otherwise ground their helicopters.
The trials were performed as part of the GNSS Introduction in the AviatioN secTor (GIANT) project. GIANT is a European Commission Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) project with
Contact: Dominique Detain
European Space Agency