Andorra-La Seu d’Urgell airport, the first airport in Spain with an instrumental flight manoeuvre based exclusively on GPS

Since the 23rd of April, Andorra-La Seu d’Urgell Airport is the first airport in Spain with an instrument flight base exclusively on GPS manoeuvre published in the AIP (Aeronautical Information Publications). This instrument flight system, which facilitates the landing of aircraft at the airport in unfavourable weather conditions, has been done in collaboration with the professor of the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Luís Perez, together with ENAIRE and the State Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The infrastructure goes from being a visual approach airport to being an instrumental approach airport. This process, which is now being completed, was launched by the Generalitat de Catalunya together with the Government of Andorra in 2017.

The Interministerial Commission for Defence and Development (CIDEFO) approved in December two parts of the process that are coming to light today. On the one hand, the restructuring of the Airspace by ENAIRE to facilitate access to the airport and the design of arrivals. On the other hand, the instrument approach and take-off procedures based on GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System). Next, the necessary documentation for the training of the AFIS tower staff as well as the ENAIRE staff involved had to be processed. The airport manager also had to process the documentation regarding the change of infrastructure check in order to include the manoeuvres in the operations manual.

The investment of the Generalitat de Catalunya to achieve this new procedure has been 300,000€, including actions to modify airport radio aids (PAPIS), test and calibration flights, feasibility studies (such as those of the Polytechnic University of Madrid), the drafting of the new airport manuals and other required technical documentation and, finally, the training of the personnel involved in the operation of this new manoeuvre.

Being able to approach the airport with an instrument assistance system will make it possible for more aircraft, both air taxis and charters, to have better operating conditions and therefore be able to increase commercial operations. This manoeuvre can be used by aircraft once certain face-to-face actions have been carried out that the state of alarm for the COVID-19 has left pending. Specifically, face-to-face training by air traffic controllers and recent verifications by AESA. As an essential service, the airport is still available today and hosts emergency flights, medical flights and aerial work, among other operations.