Belfast International Airport records a UK first

24 Aug 2016

Hi-spec tech to help aircraft land safely in poor visibility swings into action at Belfast International Airport

Belfast International Airport has become the first airport in the United Kingdom to install new, ground-breaking advanced instrument landing technology as part of a £900,000 investment to help aircraft land safely in poor visibility.  

The work was carried out by NATS, the UK’s leading provider of air navigation services.

The Indra Navia Instrument Landing System (ILS) and associated Indra Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) represents the airport’s latest investment in state-of-the art technology that has been designed and developed to assist the safe landing of aircraft during poor weather conditions in which pilots are unable to establish visual contact with the runway.

Belfast International’s new Indra LDB-103 DME is the first of its type to be installed at a UK airport.

By transmitting radio signals giving horizontal and vertical guidance, ILS technology is designed to act as a valuable precision runway-approach aid.

Belfast International’s instrument and antenna upgrade was completed by the NATS NAVAID installation team with no disruption to airport operations and flight schedules thanks to careful planning and co-ordination with stakeholders, resulting in a seamless transition of several key ILS services.

Belfast International Airport Managing Director, Graham Keddie, said the investment gave the airport a clear advantage in the aviation sector.

Mr Keddie said: “This important work was done with no disruption to services during our peak holiday period. The new Runway 25 ILS was successfully upgraded to Category 111 earlier in the month after more than 300 hours of Category 1 service without a hitch.

“Safety of passengers and the aircraft they use is our Number One priority and this equipment upgrade underlines that commitment. We are regarded as the airport of choice whenever pilots decide to divert in bad weather and now our status will be further enhanced.

“Our new Projects as technical as this one throw up a number of challenges but working alongside the professional team from NATS, they were successfully resolved.”  

Michael Cockcroft, NATS Air Traffic Services General Manager at Belfast International Airport, said: “It was good to see the various teams within NATS working together to meet our customer’s needs and expectations. This exciting project has been delivered without any negative effect on service delivery and no erosion of safety margins.

“Our engineering team did a sterling job, one that has been recognised as excellent by Belfast International Airport, and we’re proud of the part we play in pioneering ground-breaking technology to advance the aviation industry as a whole.”

 Work to replace the runway’s existing ILS with the new Runway 25 Indra Navia equipment, including a new localizer and glidepath antenna systems, started in mid-June; Belfast International’s new Indra LDB-103 DME is the first of its type to be installed at a UK airport.

“Careful management of the new antenna systems construction, which took place in front of the old structure, allowed operators to switch from one system to the other during the upgrade. This allowed us to ensure reliable continuity of service throughout the project without impacting either system’s performance,” added Michael Cockcroft.

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