Aircraft landing innovation to cut costs

Sydney Airport has unveiled a landing technology system that is expected to make flying into Australia’s busiest port safer, more efficient and to reduce weather delays for passengers.


The satellite-based technology dubbed SmartPath, a ground-based augmentation system (GBAS), improves the accuracy of aircraft positioning and enables more accurate landing in low visibility – within a metre of the runway centre line – by correcting global positioning system errors.

Transport Minister Warren Truss said the GBAS would simplify air traffic management and make the airport more efficient.

“It will have the effect also of reducing costs for industry, saving fuel and therefore providing benefits to those who use the airport as well as the operator,” Mr Truss said at its Sydney Airport launch on Wednesday.

“The SmartPath system will increase the reliability of Sydney Airport’s air traffic management operations, resulting in fewer delays and diversions due to poor weather, and that means it will benefit also the travelling public.”

He said the system would assist the entire national network as a large number of aircraft have Sydney on their flight plans at least once a day.

“You’ve only got to be delayed once in a day’s activities and certainly the whole operations of that aircraft are disrupted for the day,” Mr Truss said.

The technology, developed by Honeywell, does the work of six separate landing system units.

Qantas chief financial officer Gareth Evans said the technology would also deliver major benefits for the national carrier, which in 2005 was the first airline in the world to take delivery of a GBAS-enabled aircraft, and which will be the first Australian carrier to use the system in Sydney.

“Over time it will help reduce fuel burn, which is the biggest cost that Qantas has to bear and all airlines have to bear, and avoid the need for diversions in bad weather,” Mr Evans said.

It is expected the GBAS will be rolled out to other airports around Australia.

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