LPV: Is it Really Worth the Upgrade Cost?

Is PBN/LPV really worth the upgrade? Mario Pierobon speaks with BendixKing about the reasons for operators to upgrade, the costs and benefits, and the wider effort towards the use of GNSS technology (including ADS-B).

Mario Pierobon  |  22nd October 2018
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    Mario Pierobon
    Mario Pierobon

    Mario Pierobon holds a Master’s Degree in Air Transportation Management from City University London,...

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    Is PBN/LPV really worth the upgrade? Mario Pierobon speaks with BendixKing about the reasons for operators to upgrade, the costs and benefits, and the wider effort towards the use of GNSS technology (including ADS-B).
    Among the PBN specifications that are of interest to Business Aviation, LPV has a central role to play and there are several reasons why operators, even those of older aircraft, should upgrade to LPV.
    Localiser Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) capability allows a pilot to safely and precisely descend to within 60-76 metres of the runway. It works in coordination with an SBAS, which is a system of satellites and ground stations that provide GNSS signal corrections.
    “This is one of the most accurate systems you can get, accurate to within two metres,” Gregg Cohen, president of BendixKing tells us. “The precision of the combined technologies allows for much safer approaches and gives pilots peace of mind in knowing that they are flying with the most up-to-date and accurate navigation systems.
    “While operators of older aircraft may be discouraged from upgrading for reasons such as cost, or the fact that they have been able to fly previously without the technology it is key for them to be acutely aware of the safety benefits that LPV capability brings.”
    Among the benefits, LPV enables operators to utilize an aircraft in more locations because of the greater quality of information provided to the pilot about the aircraft’s location. “Pilots are able to confidently work in environments that require lower approaches to the runaway, such as airports within rural areas,” Cohen elaborates.
    “Pilots are also able to land at smaller, regional airports that may not have the infrastructure or facilities offered by larger airports. This allows operators to benefit from safety standards comparable to the ‘gold-standard’ Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach, at airports which do not have ILS capability.
    “Such capability isn’t feasible for all small, community airports owing to the high costs of installing the technology (around $2m per runway end). So LPV allows low-cost operators to use these airports to maintain their business model without compromising on safety.
    “While operators may have flown without LPV previously, installation should be at the top of every operator’s list to ensure their aircraft is flying with the safest solutions on-board,” Cohen emphasizes.
    LPV Cost and Benefit Analysis

    As mentioned, one of the challenges an operator may face is justifying the cost of retrofit in an older business jet. “While retrofitting can be an expensive process, we must remember the benefits that installing new hardware will bring,” suggests Cohen.
    “The system that LPV revolves around uses SBAS to improve the information a pilot receives for greater control of their flying environment. (The BendixKing KSN 770 is a good example of a system that offers capabilities to a pilot, including features like a large touchscreen size and the option to split screens. We offer an efficient solution at a great value, allowing operators to use the most advanced and safe system, while saving on unit and installation costs.)
    “The key benefit to installing LPV is efficiency. LPV allows pilots to fly into more airports globally, in adverse weather conditions. Essentially it is about saving time and costs through reduced landing fees and shorter flight times.”
    Indeed, there is a good chance that operators will find more missions can be flown, thanks to LPV capability, in the medium-to-long run when an operator upgrades to LPV, as Cohen explains.
    “BendixKing has been developing LPV systems since 2007, and the FAA has confirmed that in that time we have increased the amount of flights our customers are able to undertake by more than 3,500. As many as 2,000 of those served more than 50% non-ILS airports.
    “This was only made possible by the increased capabilities that LPV affords operators with its step-up in accuracy,” Cohen highlights.
    Meeting the ADS-B Mandate

    Of course, a PBN capability upgrade should be placed in the context of an ever-growing use of satellite-based GNSS technology in the aviation industry, which includes ADS-B.
    Whether operators are based in the US or Europe, the mandate to comply with ADS-B requirements must be met by 2020. While meeting the mandate is essential to continuing to fly beyond the deadline, it is far from the only benefit offered by an ADS-B upgrade.
    Being equipped with ADS-B means that traffic, weather and aeronautical information services can become available to the user free of charge, comparable to a mid-to-high-level XM subscription. And information that ADS-B users will receive in the future may expand to become even more comprehensive.
    “ADS-B brings great safety benefits, with cockpit displays pinpointing hazardous terrain and weather, and delivering vital information such as temporary restrictions,” Cohen explains. “It also means that by moving towards a satellite-based system, areas that don’t have radar coverage will have surveillance.
    “For example, there is scope for future development of the technology around ADS-B to display warnings to pilots about potential collisions. Honeywell offers a range of solutions to upgrade transponders and technology in the cockpit to ensure the aircraft is ready to fly.
    “In addition to the ADS-B Out solution, which uses satellite-based GNSS technology to determine aircraft location and airspeed, Honeywell also offers Future Air Navigation Systems (FANS), which provides datalink communication between pilot and ATC, ensuring more aircraft can fly safely in any given amount of airspace,” Cohen adds.
    “As we get closer to the deadline, there are many companies showcasing programs available for operators and owners to upgrade their aircraft. Honeywell, for example, offers numerous ADS-B options and packages for a multitude of aircraft and avionics providers (not exclusively limited to Honeywell), and is working with facilities to service aircraft right away.
    “Honeywell is also actively developing products to support in-service aircraft to meet these mandates and has already implemented a number of ADS-B upgrades for aircraft,” Cohen offers.
    As the ADS-B mandate is for all aircraft, the longer operators put off upgrading, the greater the bottleneck is going to be when there are only a few months left to upgrade.
    “To beat the rush, we recommend owners and operators begin planning their upgrades now, and have their aircraft scheduled for upgrades with their avionics centre by July 2019,” Cohen warns. “By upgrading sooner than later, owners and operators will save money and time by avoiding long waits at the avionics centre.
    “If owners and operators want to ensure that they are able to fly the routes they want come the 2020 deadlines, they need to upgrade and meet the mandate,” he concludes.
    More information from www.bendixking.com


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