Air Berlin: trials with new sat nav
The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) has opened an experimental station for testing a new satellite technology for aviation in Brunswick with support from Air Berlin.
In addition to the conventional instrument landing system, this new technology now also allows precision approaches using satellite signals. The Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) means that pilots can now touch down accurately even in adverse weather conditions or at airports located in areas with an unfavourable topography.
"The precision of GBAS approaches is impressive and exceeds our expectations," said Marc Altenscheidt, Chief Boeing Fleet at Air Berlin, on completion of the validation flights for the new DLR station.
"This new approach procedure opens up interesting possibilities for us. We are testing this system on our Boeing 737NG fleet with the aim of accelerating its development." Air Berlin is the only airline in Europe that is currently putting this new technology to the test.
A GBAS landing in poor weather would make holding patterns or diversions to other airports unnecessary. Flight schedules would become more stable on account of being more independent of weather conditions and offer passengers not only greater comfort, but also greater reliability in terms of planning their journeys. The associated fuel savings would allow airlines to make a further contribution towards reducing aircraft emissions.
With its accurate calculation of the approach using GPS signals, the new system also opens up new possibilities for reducing the noise affecting people living near airports, as GBAS approaches can be programmed to skirt residential areas.
Furthermore, GBAS technology could make future landings at topographically challenging airports such as Innsbruck or the island of Corfu, where geographical conditions have previously made instrument landings impossible, more straightforward and comfortable.