Summary

The Search-And-Rescue issue for General aviation (all civil aviation operations other than scheduled air services and non-scheduled air transport operations for remuneration) is essential, in terms of operational workload for rescue teams, and in terms of potential lives saved. Indeed:

  • The volume of accidents and the initial survival rate show the importance of this domain:

    • A very large majority (99%) of the aeronautical accidents involve general aviation aircrafts.

    • Those accidents are the ones with the highest immediate survival rate: contrary to commercial aviation crashes, the survival rate in general aviation is higher (only 1 accident over 6 is lethal), so that the capability to rapidly rescue the survivors is the key for saving more lives.

    • The average number of yearly rescue operations in Europe is around 840, each of them requiring in average 2 helicopters and 5 hours of research (both helicopters overall), representing a total cost (only considering helicopters use and not human workload) around 30 M€ per year for Europe (1 hour of rescue helicopter’s flight costs 7 k€). At a worldwide level, taking into account large communities of general aviation users in other countries (US, Canada, Australia, …) we get closer to 90 M€ per year.

  • The current equipment, and associated support for rescue operations, are on the contrary lower than for commercial aviation:

    • Less than 15% of the general aviation aircrafts are equipped with costly SAR beacons dedicated to aviation (ELT), and they are not presented as mandatory users by the current ICAO evolutions for in-flight activated beacons (ELT(DT)). More than 50% of the users are equipped with PLBs (Personal Beacons, initially developed for hikers and drivers) because they are cheaper even if they are not well adapted to the domain (only manual triggering, which means that the pilot shall be in position to trigger it). Finally, 35% of users do not use any SAR beacon.

    • While the general aviation accidents generate the majority of the workload of RCCs and rescue teams, the connection between the RCC and the flight clubs, the air traffic services, the aircraft owner, the pilot family, the local rescue supports… are mainly manual, based on investigation and contact skills, lowly supported by organized procedures and common tools, in particular at an international level, despite the work of international organization such as AOPA which today mainly lack of relevant technical solutions.

  • The MEOSAR system evolutions, thanks in particular to Galileo, are taken into account in other domains, and could provide bricks for technical and operational solutions for the improvement of services in General Aviation domain:

    • ICAO and C/S are doing significant standardization efforts to improve the in-flight transmission capability and performance for Commercial aviation.

    • ICAO has finally opened in December 2016 an agenda item to evaluate the feasibility of an ADT adapted to other aircrafts than commercial ones: GADSS ADT.07 – Assess extending applicability to other aircraft operations, but no project has been set in this frame for now.

    • In parallel, new uses of Galileo for MEOSAR, and in particular through the Return-Link, are intensively discussed for PLB (Personal Beacons), for EPIRB (Maritime Beacons) and more recently for ELT(DT) for Commercial Aviation mainly for remote activation,

    • The organization of exchanges in aviation around SWIM concepts is well advanced, but only hardly dealing with Search-And-Rescue, and only for Commercial Aviation.

The improvement of Search-And-Rescue for General Aviation is then at a crossing point between:

  • The highest contributor to potential saved lives in aviation, and to RCC workload

  • The less equipped and standardized users in the whole Search-And-Rescue domain

  • The last domain having not yet started to integrate new concepts for Search-And-Rescue, in particular the ones provided by Galileo MEOSAR with high quality instantaneous detection rate, reliability in encoded position, and Return-Link functionalities.

The GRIMASSE project aims at being the convergence point for these meeting lines, and then at providing an end-to-end demonstrated solution for answering to them.

EGNSS role for such improvement is twofold:

  • for the improvement of encoded GNSS position by the use of specific Galileo features and EGNOS

  • for the availability of the MEOSAR system with all its features, including in particular the unique Galileo Return-Link service.

The GRIMASSE project proposes an answer to those needs by developing an operational concept based on anchoring the Galileo SAR service in the SWIM information sharing concept implemented all around the world and in Europe in particular as SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research).

The project intends to extend and tailor the principles established by ICAO for the commercial aviation in the GADSS and the operational concepts defined in GRICAS (Funded under H2020 Call Galileo-2015-1) to general aviation by developing three products:

  • A prototype of a cost-effective ELT(DT) beacon based on spread spectrum new MEOSAR waveform dedicated to General Aviation airplanes and helicopters including the Automatic Distress Tracking functionalities. This ELT(DT) would be suitable for general aviation, affordable by small structures like flight-clubs and private pilots, easy to plug into the aircraft and with minor or no alterations to the avionics and to the aircraft. The cost effective ELT(DT) would implement automatic in-flight triggers like the new ELT-DT. The low-cost ELT(DT) could be used by all general aviation pilots. Any aircraft flying could then be equipped with an ADT and a SAR beacon to ease the transmission and the collection of information in case of distress and crash.

  • A set of applications to optimize the transmission and collect of SAR information by the RCCs and the MCCs, based on SWIM (System Wide Information Management) which consists of standards, infrastructure and governance enabling the management of ATM related information and its exchange between qualified parties via interoperable services. Those SWIM services are essential to improve the RCCs aeronautical SAR operations to answer to C/S SAR ELT(DT) alerts

  • A MEOLUT and an ELT(DT) MCC implementing functions to distribute ELT(DT) SAR alerts and cancellation messages and the MEOLUT algorithm to maximize the detection probability of the general aviation distresses. Any LUT or MCC could process the messages of the low cost ELT(DT) based on C/S standards and forward the information to the related RCC. However, possible improvements in this distribution chain will be identified, implemented, demonstrated, and supported in standardization entities by GRIMASSE project. With the additional information coming from the SWIM application, they will dramatically reduce the response time to a general aviation distress, improve the localization performance and therefore increase the survival rate.

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