Air Berlin carries out satellite navigation flight testing to simulate noise abatement approaches at Frankfurt
Air Berlin Boeing 737-700
Tue 14 Sept 2010 – Germany’s second largest airline, Air Berlin, is taking part in a joint research project to validate new noise abatement approach procedures at the German Aerospace Centre’s (DLR) research airport at Braunschweig-Wolfsburg that will simulate approaches to Frankfurt Airport. Effective noise abatement can be achieved by noise avoidance and also noise transfer, says the airline, and is testing curved approaches to avoid future over-flying of residential areas. This is made possible through the use of new onboard GLS (Global Positioning and Landing System) satellite navigation technology which enables aircraft to skirt residential areas and fly steeper approaches. Conventional Instrument Landing System (ILS) navigation only permits straight approach paths, says Air Berlin, which claims to be the only airline in the world with approval to use GLS for normal flight operations.
In partnership with DLR, Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) and Fraport (operator of Frankfurt Airport), one of Air Berlin’s Boeing 737-700 aircraft carried out 13 different approaches while noise measurements were recorded on the ground. These took place at Braunschweig-Wolfsburg as the volume of traffic at Germany’s busiest airport does not permit testing of the approaches there.
Satellite navigation not only can lead to reductions in aircraft noise for residents near the airport but also result in greater cost efficiency. It allows accurate approaches without ILS even in poor visibility or at airports located in difficult terrain, and obviating the need for holding stacks or diversions to nearby airports.
In November 2009, the German Federal Aviation Office granted Air Berlin permission for Category 1 approach flights. Since June 2007, all Boeing 737-700 and -800 aircraft delivered to the airline have been equipped with GLS and the entire fleet is expected to be operating with the system by 2013.
“The more weather-independent and flexible we can make our flights, the more stable our flying schedules will be,” said Christoph Debus, Air Berlin’s Chief Commercial Officer. “That means even greater reliability and comfort for our passengers. Furthermore, GLS allows us to reduce our fuel consumption and consequently our environmental impact.”