Le Castellet DME offers new portal to French Riviera

 - October 18, 2006, 6:26 AM

Le Castellet International Airport in the south of France was set to activate distance- measuring equipment on October 27. The new landing aid will make it much easier for pilots to shoot IFR approaches to the airfield’s 5,741-foot runway without first having to perform a daytime checkride.

The privately owned airport is situated between the port cities of Marseille and Toulon and provides convenient 24-hour access to the Provence region and to the fashionable resorts along the Cote d’Azur coast, such as St. Tropez. Excelis–the company owned by Formula 1 car racing tycoon Bernie Ecclestone, who also owns the neighboring Paul Ricard racing circuit–has redeveloped the airport extensively. The area, blessed with beautiful landscapes and plenty of sunshine, is also proving popular with movie producers for filming.

The new DME (ADC 109.25 MHz) complements the airport’s existing nondirectional beacon, its night-lit runway and precision approach path indicator. By installing a DME ground transmitter, the airport has added two new approaches–LOC-DME and NDB-DME–to supplement the NDB and LOC nonprecision approaches.

Le Castellet’s terminal building has been built with the needs of business aircraft passengers and crew in mind. It features comfortable lounges, a business center, flight-planning facilities and adjoining three- and four-star hotels. There are four hangars and an extensive ramp for aircraft parking. Security provision includes X-ray equipment, metal detectors and 24-hour closed-circuit TV surveillance.

“The new DME will allow Le Castellet International Airport users to take full advantage of our facilities by day and by night and will allow us to optimize the existing aerial traffic as well, especially during winter, when there is at most seven to eight hours of sunlight per day,” said airport president and CEO Philippe Gurdjian, who spent many months working with French civil aviation authorities to obtain approval for the new landing aid.

Le Castellet is one of several airports serving the south of France. These include Nice-Cote d’Azur, Toulon-Hyères, Marseille- Marignane and Cannes-Mandelieu.