Brussels Airport introduces satellite navigation landings

Brussels Airport Photo by Niels Sienaert

As from today, aircraft can use satellite navigation for landing at Brussels Airport (BRU). They can use that system in case the Instrument Landing System is unavailable or not present.

Technological advances in guiding aircraft to and from airports drive procedures to make the transition from ground-based beacons to the PBN system (Performance Based Navigation) which uses satellite signals among other things.

In normal circumstances, aircraft land at Brussels Airport (BRU) by making use of the ILS precision landing system on runways 25L/25R and 01/19. No ILS is installed on runways 07L/07R. When the ILS is unavailable – for maintenance reasons for instance – the air traffic controllers have to switch to the radar guidance system. However, air traffic controllers have to guide aircraft more intensively, which takes more time per aircraft. Which, in turn, inevitably results in delays for approaching aircraft and heavily
impacts air traffic capacity.

Belgocontrol continuously invests in innovative PBN technology: at the airports of Antwerp, Charleroi and Liège our air traffic controllers are already using PBN for approaching aircraft. Now it is Brussels Airport’s turn. As from today, PBN landing procedures can be performed on runways 25R/25L and 01.

Just like the ILS, satellite guidance is very precise because it functions in 3D (lateral and horizontal guidance). It boosts the airports’ safety and accessibility when ILS is unavailable. In 2016 PBN was used for approaches on runway 07L during the maintenance works on runway 01/19. The results of that period’s evaluation were positive in terms of safety, capacity and noise, allowing the system to be applied there as well. All that is required is the Minister of Mobility’s approval.

The use of PBN procedures does not change the preferential runway use in any way. First and foremost it serves as a back-up for the existing guidance systems and procedures. For a full conversion to PBN all aircraft shall have to make the switch as well.

The implementation of the PBN landing procedures are co-financed by the European Union via the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA).

— Belgocontrol