No ‘Satisfactory Answer’ Why Technology to Reduce Flight Disruption Isn’t Operational

airport 12The new EGNOS system at St Mary’s Airport, which should help planes fly in poorer weather conditions, will still not be working by the start of the 2016 holiday season.

And the Chairman of the Council’s Transport, Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee says he can’t get a satisfactory answer as to why.

Cllr Robert Dorrien-Smith raised the issue at the committee’s meeting on Tuesday, where councillors voted to increase airport landing fees by 15%.

When planes can’t fly, it means the airport loses those charges. Council Chairman Amanda Martin said that has “a material bearing” on those fees.

In response to questioning, Senior Infrastructure Manager Craig Dryden said the airport was still working with the CAA to get the system commissioned and it was likely to be in place “by the end of the calendar year.”

EGNOS uses satellites to augment the existing GPS signals, so that pilots can rely on it for a safe approach under reduced visibility – conditions that would currently result in aircraft being grounded.

It was fitted at St Mary’s and Land’s End Airports as part of the upgrade programme, managed by the Council’s Strategic Development team led by Senior Manager Diana Mompoloki.

The work at St Mary’s Airport cost £580,000 more than expected and has been criticised by councillors and members of the public for its poor design and quality.

The project was completed in autumn 2014 but in January 2015, former Airport Manager Howard Cole told councillors that the EGNOS system was “unlikely to be complete until next winter.”

Officers did not give a reason for the continued delay at St Mary’s although Cllr Dorrien-Smith said he understood the system will be operational at Land’s End Airport, which is managed by the Steamship Company, this spring.

Steamship Company Chief Executive Rob Goldsmith told ScillyToday: “We are disappointed to hear, if true, that EGNOS is unlikely to be delivered until the end of the year or beyond when we have been working so hard to have these implemented much earlier at Land’s End with our first runway due later in the spring.

“We are also disappointed that a number of very basic problems with the new St Mary’s Airport facilities have still not been fixed after more than a year of repeated requests for action which does not sit at all well with a desire by the Council to significantly increase charges.”

10 Responses to No ‘Satisfactory Answer’ Why Technology to Reduce Flight Disruption Isn’t Operational

  1. EGNOS March 4, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    The EGNOS service is indeed operational since March 2011 and is provided via Signal-In-Space (SIS) via 2 GEO stationary satellites. Airports do not need any ground infrastructure on their ground as the signal is provided via the SIS. What is needed is an LPV procedures approved by the corresponding CAA and an EGNOS Working Agreement (EWA) with the ESSP (the EGNOS service provider). This last one was signed several months ago. Furthe information can be found on the EGNOS user support website

  2. Egnosguy March 4, 2016 at 11:00 am

    EGNOS is working in Europe since 2011, you can just google it. In fact there is no need to have any equipment in the airport; no need of civil works at all. What is seemingly taking so long is the process of approval of the flight procedure by the Civil Aviation Authority. I would not blame the Council, it is quite new for all projects like this in the UK.

  3. Chris Peat March 4, 2016 at 10:53 am

    I think I am right in saying that EGNOS doesn’t need any extra ground equipment at airports, being satellite and aircraft based. (Google it and see what you think).There is a very rigorous CAA certification process though before the system can be used at new airports. I believe that this might be the reason for the delay at St. Mary’s and Land’s End. The ISSCO stated some time ago that the equipment needed had already been installed in their Otter aircraft. All of them? And what about their bad weather workhorses, the Islanders? As an ex pilot who has landed at Scilly and Land’s End many times, I wouldn’t hold out a lot of hope for a miracle breakthrough when the paperwork and aircraft installation finally gets sorted though. There will be a small lowering of the minimum height allowed before a pilot has to abandon a landing attempt, which will help a little when the cloud ceiling is at a marginal level. I would not expect to see EGNOS providing any improvement at all in conditions of poor visibility. Love to be proved wrong on this!

  4. Margaret Keppler March 3, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Our community has never been so badly served by its council, the whole approach to our infrastructure is really very poor, nobody amongst the officers seems to either understand or get to grips with issues anymore. The senior team and the chairman and vice chairman are clueless.

  5. John Allsop March 3, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    So we are told there is no satisfactory answer, why is that accepted? Very basic problems at the airport not fixed after more than one year, why? Do some people need replacing.

    • Voxpop March 4, 2016 at 10:50 am

      One of the many fundamental problems John is that the management systems are themselves now so flawed that that they are unsuited to the task of defining an effective remedy. It can only be hoped that either the auditer will intervene or some of our councillors will rise up and declare game over.

  6. saltsolution March 3, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Is the EGNOS equipment on the roof of the airport, in those sandbags?

    • Fred Up March 3, 2016 at 10:40 pm

      You couldn’t make it up could you? Spend all that money and forget to mend the roof……there’s little chance that the EGNOS will be working by the end of the calendar decade!