The Flight Inspection Service in Italy was created in 1952 within Italian Air Force. It used to operate a C-47 aircraft, on all Italian Airports (military and civil) and was initially based on Centocelle Airport – Roma.
At the end of Fifties the Italian F.I Department moved to Pratica di Mare Airport, near Roma, with the name “Reparto Sperimentale di Volo” and later “Centro Radiomisure”.
It operated a fleet composed by:
- Four C-47 aircraft equipped with a manual F.I. System and ground theodolite for ILS, VOR and NDB flight checks.
- Three C-45 aircrafts equipped with a small manual System for NDB and DF flight checks;
- Three T-33 aircrafts for RADAR and GCA flight checks.
The C47 Flight Inspection Aircraft
Early in the Sixties the “Centro Radiomisure” was transformed into “Reparto Radiomisure” still operating the same fleet.
In 1972 the FI System was upgraded with an infrared electronic theodolite (IFIS) and the old C-45 was replaced by a Piaggio twin jet PD-808.
At the end of year 1976 the “Reparto Radiomisure” became “14 ° Squadron” which is still today the Military FI Department, in charge of the flight check of military NAV-AIDS only.
However during the period between 1974 and 1984 an Italian private Airline (A.T.I.) supported the 14° Squadron for flight checks using three Fokker 27 aircrafts equipped with a manual F.I. System.
In 1984 there was an aircraft turn-over with Aeritalia G222 replacing the old C-47 while the T-33 were replaced by Aermacchi MB339.
A G222 with the red stripes of Flight Inspection
The G222 aircrafts, still operated by Air Force 14° Squadron, were equipped with an Aeritalia AFIS (Automatic F.I. System).
In the year 1985 the Italian Government split the responsibility of checking NavAids between the F.I. Departments of the Air Force and the new established Civil Air Traffic Control Agency ENAV (in those days called AAAVTAG)
Since then, the Flight Inspection Service in Italy is accomplished by two different units:
- The “14 Squadron” of Air Force, responsible for the Nav-Aids installed on all military Airports only;
- The “Area Radiomisure” of “ENAV”, responsible for all civil Nav-Aids installed on civil Airports.
The G222 FI Console
"ENAV" (Ente Nazionale di Assistenza al Volo)
ENAV is the Italian government agency for Air Traffic Control and Aeronautical Services. It was established in 1981, when the responsibility for air traffic services for general civil air traffic was transferred from the Italian Air Force to the new agency.
The Agency has its H.Q. in Rome, and it is responsible mainly for:
- Air Traffic Services
- Aeronautical Telecommunications
- Aeronautical Information Service
- Flight Inspection Service
- Aerodrome Weather Service
- Recruitment, Training and Licencing of Personnel
- Advices and studies on any matter related to ATS
- Supply and maintenance of permises and systems
- Autonomous management and financing, through enroute and terminal taxes and sale of services.
Flight Inspection of civil NAV-AIDS is one of the main tasks carried out by ENAV, to assure the safety of air navigation. This is accomplished periodically checking that navigation and approach aids’ precision and parameters are in conformity with the ICAO standards, and that they can satisfy their operational requirements.
Since September 1986 this activity has been managed directly by ENAV with the establishment of its own F.I. Department called “Area Radiomisure”, with a completely new fleet and new F.I. Systems. Within the department was also created the maintenance and technical support for F.I Systems and aircrafts.
About the Fleet
A fleet of three CESSNA Citation II aircrafts, each equipped with an “ad-hoc” automatic high-technology system, is available to perform flight check operations to acquire in-flight real-time data without any ground-based support equipment.
ENAV aircrafts are flown by two pilots (Captain), while one Inspector manages the inspection equipment and keep contacts with the ground maintenance personnel for real time corrections to the NavAid under test.
The aircrafts, are equipped as follow:
- Two CITATION II each equipped with a Parker-Gull full Automatic Flight Inspection System (AFIS) based on Laser IRU, GPS and DGPS technology .
The aircraft airframe was modified in 1984 by Alenia (formerly Aeritalia) to install a gimbal stabilized vertical camera in the tailcone, a number of independent antennas for the F/I receivers and the structures to support the F.I. consolle located in the cabin. The System has been recently upgraded to the latest technology by Parker-Gull.
- One CITATION SII equipped with an ENAV automatic Flight Inspection System.
Using the experience gained in over ten years of activity, the F/I Electronic Laboratory designed, made and installed on board of this aircraft a low cost , lightweight, removable Flight Inspection System for enroute Nav-Aids checks. The System is based on GPS for the aircraft positioning and a commercial PC for data collection and analysis. For this System the Electronic Lab wrote the software, designed and built the interfaces needed which were not commercially available, built and installed the whole System into the aircraft.
A low pass for ENAV’s Citation II during an ILS check
The Citation II FI System
ENAV's F/I Operations
By accurate determination of the aircraft’s position, ENAV’s AFIS is capable, without any ground based equipment, to automatically flight inspect:
- VOR, DME, NDB, TACAN and ILS (up to CAT.III)
- Visual Approach Aids ( PAPI , VASI , T-VASI)
The inspections carried out are:
- Routine inspection
- Special flight inspection, due to reported failures or malfunctions
- Commissioning inspections , for new equipment
- ILS inspection , for categorization up to Cat. III
- Site check inspections, to determine the suitability of a proposed site for the installation of a new facility.
The lightweight FI System on the CITATION SII
ENAV F.I. Department is also equipped with a highly specialized electronic laboratory and a consolle dynamic simulator, for personnel training and for specific courses, also available for foreign students. F.I. Service is ready to perform inspection for other countries, if so required.
Today and … Tomorrow
ENAV Flight Inspection Department has participated and supported the ADS Mediterranean trials and has recently supported the Mediterranean Satellite Test Bed trials (MTB) performed by ENAV in conjunction with FAA to develop the integration of the MTB into the EGNOS Test Bed and will continue the Euro-American activities to confirm the benefits of the active interoperability between EGNOS and WAAS.
ENAV Flight Inspection Department has recently started a wide program for the change of the aircraft’s type and for the implementation of F/I checks of MLS and P-DME. Rationalization of the Organization and modernization of the System, nowadays and even more tomorrow, are imperative to produce cost-effective services for the Aviation community.
-by Claudio Di Vincenzo , ENAVN.A Toulouse