Should an ANSP cozy up with an airline?

On 18/12/2015, in Perspectives, by steve

wizzThe press announcement that HungaroControl, the Hungarian Air Navigation Service Provider and WizzAir, the Hungarian low-cost carrier and an airline to be reckoned with in the European market, have signed a co-operation agreement “covering flight-safety, operations and operations planning, research and development, education, training, service quality and customer satisfaction” is not the usual kind of news one normally expects coming from an air navigation service provider.

Of course, there is nothing wrong in having pilots of WizzAir and controllers of HungaroControl getting to know each other better, learninghc about each other’s problems and discussing how to make things better. With some of the departure and arrival procedures at Budapest Ferihegy airport being rather weird, such co-operation can certainly do no harm. For HungaroControl to have access to the facilities and support of a dynamic low-cost carrier is a bog bonus and bidding for European Commission projects should also be helped if they can throw in a friendly airline to boost the deal.

Done right, this co-operation can indeed be very beneficial with no adverse side effects. If done right… and that “if” may in fact be a rather big one that might even become a thorn in the eyes of the other airlines using HungaroControl’s services.

Click here to read the full article


GPS Jamming – eLoran to the Rescue

On 27/04/2013, in Perspectives, by steve

The vulnerability of GPS to jamming and the risks faced by aviation if it became too dependent on GPS have been the subject of discussion for a long time now. Several activities world-wide have also been ongoing to define and agree an alternative/back-up system.

Of course it is not easy to come up with something that offers the required functions and which does so for the same price GPS does. The catch here is that users essentially experience GPS as completely free. They do not need to worry about the fact that the costs of operating the GPS system are picked up by US taxpayers. On the other hand, it is extremely unlikely that any alternative system would be financed in the same way. In other words, the costs of the alternative/backup system would have to be born by the users, resulting in two significant effects: one, the business case for the future, satellite based air traffic management system becomes weaker and two, GPS vulnerabilities tend to be played down by the user community who are, understandably, reluctant to let go even a part of what appeared as the only free lunch in town.

Now, however, North Korea may have helped the aviation industry to dig its head out of the sand and address the GPS issue seriously.

North Korea is well known for its starving people and its love of gadgets. Ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs are high on their agenda but the mischief they can do with GPS jamming has also not passed by them unnoticed.

Originally started in 2010, jamming from the impoverished rogue state has been increasing in frequency and affected an ever larger number of aircraft and marine vessels in South Korea’s airspace and waters. Apparently, the L1, L2 and L5 bands were all at risk from high-power continuous wave jamming signals.

In the past, some experts believed that it would be difficult to jam GPS over large areas at the same time and while an airport with satellite based procedures could face major disruption and a safety issue, the whole ATM system on a given continent would be relatively immune. What North Korea has shown now is that it is possible to have truly large areas blanketed with jamming signals that could potentially deny service on a worrisome scale.

What can be done?

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Ferihegy Airport – the beginning of the end?

On 27/10/2012, in Perspectives, by steve

Not many things seem to be working in Hungary these days. With a right wing government that seems to make a sport of creating enemies all around it, from the European Union to the IMF, the small Central-European country has now reached a point where the economy has nowhere to go but down. This of course has an impact also on air transport and the airport of Budapest.

Ferihegy Airport (which was renamed Liszt Ferenc International Airport by a name-change crazy city administration) was hit simultaneously by the crisis in the aviation world and the collapse of the Hungarian economy. The demise of Malev, the once-proud Hungarian National airline earlier this year left the airport with a huge gap in revenues. It also started a chain of events that is nothing short of amazing.

When long-loss making Malev disappeared from the scene almost overnight, they set a record as the only airline from former communist times to go bankrupt. The result of many years of mismanagement and a total lack of vision on the part of its various owners, the bankruptcy nevertheless opened up the field for other players, particularly low-fare companies, to take Budapest by storm.

Wizzair, Easy Jet and Ryanair were on the spot right away, ready to take up some of the slack left by the exit of the legacy carrier.

Click here to read the full article



On 06/04/2011, in Perspectives, by steve

Every so often I wake with a splitting headache which is bad enough as it tends to persist the whole day… Even worse however is the rather somber view I have at times like that of our beloved aviation world.

When I think of airports, I see not the runways and the aircraft parked at the gates… I see expensive supermarkets where finding your gate is difficult not because there are so many of them but because you have to wade through shops selling stuff at “tax-free prices” that are still double of what you would pay on Main Street and because the airport will not post the bloody gate numbers until the last minute to keep you in the shopping area that much longer. Very naughty because passengers sometimes forget that they are there to travel and not to make the airport richer with the consequence that they will be late at the gate and possibly delay the flight (or have their baggage unloaded and be left behind). With more and more of their revenue coming from the concessions, who could blame the airports for often concentrating more on selling to the passengers while giving only the minimum they can get away with to their supposedly main customers, the airlines. It is remarkable that one of the main achievements of SESAR will be the full integration of airports into the air traffic management system. I could have sworn aircraft departed from and arrived on runways at airports for decades and that this integration had taken place many years ago. No Sir, that was not the case. Airport operating companies are profit oriented and very competitive and until recently they very successfully kept out of the ATM fold lest their peculiar ideas about operating aircraft be corrupted by “outside” influences. The ideal airline for an airport would be one with no aircraft… The passengers would come to the airport, shop and dine and shop some more and then go home… Aircraft are such a pain in the six o’clock. They are noisy, need a lot of space and their operators are in constant financial stress so the prices the airport can charge is limited. Walking through some airports these days I get the feeling these guys are transforming the facility into a shopping mall and the flying bit is becoming almost incidental.

A few years ago I was crossing the plaza in front of Amsterdam Airport and a guy with a big suitcase approached me with desperation in his eyes: Sir, he asked, where is the airport here? Where indeed!

Click here to read the full article


What is in a name?

On 30/03/2011, in Perspectives, by pbn


Liszt Ferenc...

It is not often that Hungarians manage to get into the news though they have been improving lately. Their antics in the European Parliament and at home recently have resulted in a lot of raised eyebrows and few friends. Now the parliament in Budapest as well as the city fathers have embarked with unusual zeal on a campaign to rename squares and streets with even Elvis Presley likely to get a small park named after him. What exactly is driving this zeal is not really clear but one thing is sure: it has now reached Budapest’s airport which has been called Ferihegy since it opened in the early 50’s.

From now on Ferihegy is (or should be) called Liszt Ferenc International Airport. Do you know who Liszt Ferenc was? I have asked a few people among my contacts and none of them have ever heard of him. If they had to guess, they said he was probably some kind of Hungarian aviation pioneer…

In fact Liszt Ferenc was a 19th century Hungarian composer and piano virtuoso who, by the way, did not speak a word of Hungarian. This did not prevent him from becoming the most technically advanced pianist of his time. He is certainly a more prominent figure in Hungarian history than Mayerffy Ferenc who was the owner of vineyards in the area where the airport now stands.

It is an understatement to say that the name change was not received with cheers in the country. Most people were simply asking the question: why? What the hell was wrong with Ferihegy?

Click here to read the full article


EGNOS open service available

On 13/10/2009, in Perspectives, by cleo

Quote from an airspace user position paper dated 1 July 2003:

“Finally, the airspace users would like to recall that they have resisted the development
of the European Geostationary Overlay System (EGNOS), which has been mainly
developed for political reasons and for which all attempts to build a credible aviation
business case have failed. As a consequence, public funds have to be provided to fund
the entire EGNOS system (development costs as well operational costs). Reference is
made to the AEA, IATA, ERA, IAOPA, IACA joint position paper on the European
Commission’s Communication (COM(2003)123final) on the Integration of EGNOS
into Galileo.”

Read the complete paper here (source: Internet).

Quote from an ESA press release dated 1 October 2009:

“During a press conference today, Mr Antonio Tajani, European Commission Vice-President for Transport Policy, announced the official start of operations for EGNOS, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service. The EGNOS ‘Open Service’ is now available. This allows users to determine their position to within two metres, compared with about 20 metres for GPS alone. The Open Service is provided free of charge.”

Read the complete press release here.

The cartoon dates from Christmas 2003, artist unknown.



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