Sydney Airport Activates Precision Approach GBAS System

 - July 3, 2014, 6:19 PM
GBAS remote satellite measurement unit installed at Sydney Airport. (Photo: Airservices Australia)

Sydney Airport has placed into operation a ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) supporting satellite-based precision approaches and landings. The airport is the first in Australia to offer a GBAS landing system, Airservices Australia said.

The Honeywell SLS-4000 GBAS, branded as “SmartPath,” transmits corrected, differential GPS signals by VHF datalink to an aircraft’s flight management system, providing a precision approach path that enables it to land within one meter of the runway center line in low visibility conditions. The Sydney GBAS installation is capable of providing up to 26 simultaneous instrument approaches within a 26-mile radius of the airport. Airservices said that it is working with airlines “to encourage fitment” of SmartPath-capable avionics.

The government-owned air navigation services provider started operational tests of the GBAS system in December 2012 in conjunction with Qantas, using Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A380 airliners operated by pilots qualified to fly SmartPath approaches. Qantas flew some 750 GBAS approaches as part of that evaluation; during an earlier trial of a prototype system between 2006 and 2010 the airline flew more than 2000 satellite-guided precision approaches.

“We’re proud to be the first airport in Australia to install and use this technology,” said Kerrie Mather, Sydney Airport CEO. “This revolutionary technology does the work of six separate instrument landing system units. It’s an additional layer of safety that more and more airlines will take advantage of as new aircraft models such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner go into service.”