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Leonardo, ENAV to advance infrastructure for helicopters in the civil air space

October 8, 2020  By Helicopters Staff

New partnership between Leonardo and ENAV will focus on modern Performance Based Navigation (PBN) navigation procedures. (Photo: Leonardo)

Leonardo and ENAV signed a Letter of Intent primarily aimed at modernizing the safe and efficient use of helicopters and air space by leveraging navigation technologies, in Italy and overseas for both private and public service operators.

With a workforce of 4,200, ENAV is the Italian air navigation service provider, which handles approximately two million flights per year from the control towers of 45 airports and four Area Control Centres (ACC).

Leonardo explains air navigation infrastructures, particularly procedures and air space development, are designed mainly to support fixed-wing aircraft flight operations, limiting the potential and versatility of rotary-wing aircraft. Helicopters inherently feature great flexibility, explains Leonardo, and a higher degree of freedom in manoeuvrability, primarily based on vertical take-off and landing and hover capabilities.

The latest certification standard of Leonardo helicopters already allows for the use of modern Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures, and ENAV has already been at the forefront of design PBN procedures for both fix- and rotary-wing aircraft for years.


Leonardo explains PBN procedures, carried out through satellite navigation, contribute to air space optimization delivering greater flight operation safety based on greater navigation, approach and landing precision and accuracy. Leonardo describes this as a key enabler particularly in certain weather conditions, as PBN is combined or replaces the more traditional land-based radio navigation systems.

Leonardo also notes PBN procedures ensure a reduction in polluting emissions and noise through dedicated routes and higher efficiency. The company states passenger transport, emergency medical service, rescue and disaster relief operations, surveillance, and fire-fighting are among the main applications that can benefit from this technology, in all-weather conditions, day and night.

“With this initiative we confirm our commitment to contribute to Italy’s growth and competitiveness by strengthening a critical infrastructure like our sky as well as the systems and rules regulating its use,” said Alessandro Profumo, CEO, Leonardo. “We do this by introducing innovation, digitalization and procedures which will come closer and closer to the future Urban Air Mobility scenarios, thanks to the continuous modernization in the field of integration with our expertise in helicopters and the relevant flight safety enabling technologies, air traffic control systems and space technologies.”

Profumo continues to describe Italy’s contribution to the efforts made by Europe in this sector with programs like SESAR, which he notes can become a benchmark at an international level.

“Air space is a prime infrastructure for Italian and international [economic] growth,” said Paolo Simioni, CEO of ENAV. “Therefore, we’re investing in technological innovation which must also be sustainable and support the environment. Leonardo and ENAV are two strategic players for the technological and infrastructural development of this sector and this partnership provides further evidence of the technological excellent and quality of ENAV’s people. I’m confident that this collaboration will provide both partners with a competitive advantage in the international market.”


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