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Using AI to help military aircraft fly PBN approaches

Close-up of the cockpit with pilot of a Typhoon EF 2000 Eurofighter jet aircraft in flight

EUROCONTROL experts team up with the UK military to develop a new tool for the military community

One of the major challenges that military aircraft operators face today is to demonstrate that military capabilities on board their aircraft, such as the Global Positioning System Precise Positioning Service (GPS PPS), are compliant for flying using Performance-Based Navigation (PBN). Using GPS PPS as the navigation sensor to perform PBN is crucial when State aircraft need to fly in a general air traffic (GAT) environment which relies on such a system.

To address this challenge, EUROCONTROL and the UK Defence Airspace and Air Traffic Management have developed a tool which enables the verification of military aircraft performance for GNSS approaches in a PBN environment. This solution draws on surveillance, meteorological, and aircraft performance datasets, and makes innovative use of artificial intelligence (AI) to determine an aircraft’s total system error which, in turn, will be measured against PBN accuracy requirements.

AI has provided an ideal technological opportunity to verify in-flight performance, solving the need for expensive validation exercises which are further hampered by the lack of cockpit space and/or different configurations of military aircraft, all of which make dynamic testing and recording difficult.

This tool looks set to deliver significant added value for the military community when they need to carry out certification-qualification actions aiming at aiming at reducing costs, safeguarding accessibility to civil airports, and contributing to reduce environmental impacts.

The project was developed under the EUROCONTROL Air Transport Innovation Network, powered by the EUROCONTROL Innovation Hub, following an idea that had been pitched by the UK Defence Airspace and Air Traffic Management. EUROCONTROL’s Civil-Military Cooperation Division managed the project, and a ‘minimum viable product’ was presented to stakeholders at the end of 2022.

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