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Steeper landings set to cut aircraft noise

The Local · 7 Sep 2010, 11:43

Published: 07 Sep 2010 11:43 GMT+02:00

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The new approach, which experts say is just as safe as the technique now used, could make a big difference at congested airports such as Frankfurt, according to experts from the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), which announced the tests this week.

The DLR carried out 13 test flights at the Braunschweig research airstrip using a Boeing 737-700 aeroplane provided by Air Berlin.

“With the help of satellite navigation we can fly around residential areas during landing,” DLR director Dirk Kügler said in Braunschweig.

One flight tested the path that Frankfurt Airport – Germany’s busiest by far – hopes to begin using soon for night flights to avoid disturbing nearby residents. Noise measurements on the ground were taken for the test flight and will be analysed over coming months.

Ralph Riedle, head of aviation navigation firm Deutsche Flugsicherung, said the new, curved landing method was just as safe as the hitherto-used direct approach. He believed that the Federal Transport Ministry would approve the new technique this year and that it would start to be used at Frankfurt.

There, flights would swing around heavily populated areas such as Offenbach. DLR chairman Johann-Dietrich Wörner said that between the curved flights, the steeper landings and other measures, overall noise affecting residents should be reduced by about 40 percent.

“The communities in large areas around Frankfurt Airport are affected by noise from approaching aircraft,” Wörner said.

People in rural and sparsely populated areas may not be happier about the new approach: given the difficulty of finding unpopulated paths to fly over, the areas with fewer people will bear the brunt of the flight noise.

In an effort to cut noise altogether along the early section of the landing path, the test pilots started their descents later. Normally, a large passenger plane descends at a 3-degree angle, said Kügler, but this was increased for some test flights to 3.2 degrees, which was perfectly possible with modern commercial airliners.

The DLR is assessing the data on the steeper landings, particularly the effects on the plane and its crew, and any environmental impact.

The test landings used a cutting-edge GPS system called the Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) that pinpoints the position of the plane to within less than a metre. The precision means the pilot does not have to set a straight-line course as early in the flight as would normally be the case, but could rather manouevre the plane until a later stage.

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Air Berlin boss Christoph Debus said the new GBAS was, at present, used only at Germany’s Bremen airport and Spain’s Malaga airport.

“It would be welcome if it were introduced at all airports,” he said.

First and foremost, it should be introduced at Düsseldorf, Nürnberg and the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport now being built, he added.

The Local/DAPD/dw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:52 September 7, 2010 by NYsteve
Try contacting the officials at San Diego International Airport for info....this airport is in a "bowl" so to speak...and the aircraft have to drop in to land....
13:52 September 7, 2010 by moistvelvet
Surely it is just as safe as the "hitherto-used direct approach" until something goes wrong. I would have thought the direct approach has been used for years for a reason, and who would be happy being flown on a slalom between villages at low level when the pilot has one eye on a Sat Nav attached to the windscreen.

And all this to please some people who chose to live near an airport... oh and increase later night flights and ticket sales too perhaps.
18:18 September 7, 2010 by AirForceGuy
I agree with moistvelvet, new technology can do this in a safe way, but if a failure happens, what then? How many of the Air Berlin test flights were done with a simulated engine failure or any other fault?Steeper approach angles means less time for a pilot to recognize and correct for an off-nominal condition.
01:37 September 8, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, I agree with AirForceGuy. I have followed commercial aerospace very closely for many years. And I can't see how they can say that steep approaches are just as safe.

Furthermore, history shows that flying at night is more actually more dangerous. I'm sure they know this.

An article came out today about how Ryanair is thinking about flying with just one pilot in the cockpit, so that they can save (make) more money.

Space Shuttle Challenger exploded during lift-off, because they operated in extreme conditions. And I could list countless examples where jet airliners crashed due to being operated in extreme conditions.

Why do humans treat history like trash?
10:59 September 8, 2010 by LMFAO
I'm beginning to think the commenters on The local are the most unhinged people on the entire internet.


It's a fairly benign article about planes landing and the last guy ends his post with "Why do humans treat history like trash?"

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