Beijing World First in Parallel Approach Monitoring
Beijing’s Capital International Airport, expanding to handle 2008 Olympics traffic, has opted away from traditional radar monitoring of simultaneous approaches on its future parallel runway layout. Aircraft using its two 12,500-foot-long runways will be tracked by a local network of small, unmanned “listening posts” that triangulate the positions of every transponder-equipped aircraft within 30 miles, with better accuracy, much lower cost and almost five times the update rate of terminal radar. Controller displays show smooth continuous aircraft tracks, instead of the 4.8-second jumps between sweeps of the radar’s rotating beam. Beijing’s operational system will also track aircraft and vehicular surface movements, to avoid runway incursions. Supplied by ERA (the new name for Rannoch, as of February 6), the multilateration, or MLAT, concept is gaining worldwide attention, with two national aviation administrations installing it instead of radar for airspace surveillance out to 300 miles.