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Friday, December 9, 2022

Loganair CEO Urges UK Government to Re-Think Aviation Sat-Nav 

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Airline chief calls for reinstatement of EGNOS system in letter to ministers.

One year on from the UK’s withdrawal from the EGNOS precision satellite-based aviation navigation system, Loganair, the UK’s largest regional airline, has written to UK Secretaries of State Grant Shapps MP and Kwasi Kwarteng MP to press for restoration of UK access to the system. 

Loganair’s letter coincides with the publication of a new report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on General Aviation, which clearly sets out the economic and safety benefits of the system. 

Led by Lord Berkeley and Lord Davies of Gower, the report highlights that many of the UK’s most fragile air links – from Shetland in the north to the Isles of Scilly in the south – have been subject to more frequent cancellation and delays in poor weather conditions than ever before. 

The cross-party group and UK regional airlines including Loganair are calling for the UK to immediately re-join the EGNOS programme. Since its withdrawal, the UK has been the only G20 country without a precision satellite-based navigation system. 

Loganair’s Chief Executive Jonathan Hinkles said:

“In the last year, we’ve seen weather cancellations on routes such as those to Tiree and Barra double in the absence of the EGNOS satellite capability – inconveniencing customers, leading to more aborted flights and wasted carbon emissions, and setting back the Government’s objectives for union connectivity and ‘Levelling Up’ by impairing transport links to some of our most dependent island communities.” 

The new report highlights that disruption to over 100,000 customer journeys each year could be avoided and that for every £1 spent on EGNOS participation, the UK economy would stand to benefit by £2.60. 

These figures are based on last year’s data and do not take account of Loganair’s fleet renewal in which new ATR turboprop aircraft – equipped to use the satellite system – carry an increasing proportion of its customers.  

The airline contends that actual benefits of renewed participation in the EGNOS programme will therefore be higher. 

Writing to the Secretaries of State for Transport and BEIS, the Loganair Chief Executive said:

“Our pilots are trained to continually re-evaluate every step and decision in the conduct of every flight, to avoid the phenomenon known as ‘press-on-itus’ – slavishly sticking by a decision even though developing circumstances clearly mandate a re-think. 

“This is a Government decision which would benefit from such a re-evaluation.” 

The letter highlights that the development of any “home-grown” UK alternative to EGNOS is many years away and encourages the Secretaries of State to renew UK participation in the scheme.      

The new report, by consultants Oxera, indicates that the cost of UK participation will be £27-29 million annually. 

It also highlights the benefits for aviation safety and life-dependent services such as air ambulance flights, where it is understood that ability to safely land in Scottish island airports on flights critical to life has been impaired by the UK’s withdrawal from the EGNOS programme. 

Loganair fully supports the findings of the report and expresses its thanks to Lords Berkeley and Davies of Gower for their efforts in raising this issue in debates in the House of Lords and with UK ministers. 

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